Original Case Details
Federal authorities raided a house in northern Michigan that they believe is tied to an art forgery scheme that tricks art collectors into buying fake paintings claimed to be painted by top American artists. These artists include Ralston Crawford, Gertrude Abercrombie, and George Ault. Ault was an artist active mainly in the 1940s, while Crawford was mainly active in the 1970s but also had a similar artistic style to Ault. Abercrombie was a surrealist artist mainly active in the 1970s as well. Those involved in the scheme are also believed to be in the business of selling counterfeit sports memorabilia falsely advertised as belonging to baseball hall of famers Babe Ruth, Will Mays, and Lou Gehrig. Investigators believe this is a national crime ring which has conspirators operating in the Detroit area. It is alleged that this ring targeted major galleries with its scheme. Hirschl & Adler, a top American art gallery in New York City, spent nearly half a million dollars in paintings that were part of the alleged scheme. The managing director of the gallery, Elizabeth Feld stated that, “this is every (art) dealer’s nightmare.” Feld also pointed out that the artwork they bought was still beautiful art, even if not painted by the artists claimed. It is important to note that the artwork that is alleged to have been sold are not said to be photocopies of other famous pieces. These are pieces that art claimed to have been unknown pieces of art coming from these famous artists. In order for any of this alleged scheme to work, they have to convince art collectors and art galleries that these pieces were actually painted by a famous artist, something they seem to have done pretty well.