A federal grand jury has indicted Madison, Connecticut art dealer David J. Crespo, owner of the Brandon Art Gallery for defrauding clients by selling them fake Chagall lithographs and fake Picasso works from a bogus Arruza collection.
It appears that Crespo originally purchased some puportedly signed Chagall illustrations cut out from a book from a New York gallery from 2000 to 2009. In 2005 Crespo also purchased a group of Picasso illustrations referred to as the Azzuro collection from an ebay seller in Miami. Armed with these two piles of worthless paper, Crespo embarked on an elaborate scheme which involved falsifying letters of authenticity and provenance, complicated art investment schemes involving the barter of over 250 other works of art, and the sale of the book illustrations to unsuspecting collectors.
Crespo originally got a Connecticut collector/investor to invest $38,000 in two Miro works in 2002. In 2005, Crespo induced the same investor to trade his stake in the two Miro works and pony up an additional $78,000 for a 1/3 stake in the bogus Azzuro purportedly worth $1.3 million.
In another instance, in 2009 Crespo convinced another Connecticut collector to pay $35,000 with his AmEx card as well as part with another work worth $48,000 for a worthless reproduction of Picasso’s L’atelier de La Californie similar to the version seen for sale on this site for $149.
The whole scheme finally came tumbling down when in 2010, Crespo sold a fake Chagall lithograph The Presentation of Chloe to an undercover federal agent for $2000.