Two antique art dealers were charged Tuesday for allegedly creating false ownership stories for the antiques they were selling at auction houses in New York City.
Erdal Dere and his business partner Faisal Khan used the identities of deceased collectors to create the fake old stories they were selling through New York-based Erdal Dere Fortuna Fine Arts Ltd, according to charge no. sealed on Tuesday.
The history of ownership of an ancient work of art known as provenance is important in documenting its value and determining whether it was looted or illegally acquired. Buying, selling, possessing or moving stolen or looted property is illegal.
Two dealers of ancient art have been indicted on charges including fraud and identity theft https://t.co/x9dbmGkEsw
— The Post-Star (@poststar) September 22, 2020
Dere Produced false ownership documents
The US law firm in the Southern District of New York said that as of 2015, Erdal Dere has produced false documents to show the ownership history of items owned by his company and new items that Khan had purchased primarily in Asia. Erdal Dere business partner Khan found buyers for the items in the United States and abroad.
Dere was arrested in New York on Tuesday. Khan was arrested at his home in Flanders, New Jersey. Both were to appear in court on Tuesday afternoon.
Dere, 50, is charged with conspiracy, wire fraud and increasing identity theft. Khan, 47, is charged with wire fraud and conspiracy. Computer fraud and conspiracy charges carry a maximum penalty of 20 years.
A message was left with an attorney representing Dere. The name of an attorney representing Khan was not immediately available.
The FBI Art Crimes Team and the New York Police Department Grand Theft Task Force worked with authorities from Germany, Italy, Great Britain, Spain and France on the investigation.