Detail from Glafira Rosale's S1 indictment

Guilty plea over forged Abstract Expressionists

Glafira Rosales pleads guilty to conspiracy to selling fake Pollocks and Rothkos in New York

It's a case that has been hanging over the New York art market for years. How could a little-known art dealer pass off sixty or so works created by an unwitting Septuagenarian Chinese painter, as prime artworks by some of America's greatest 20th century painters?

Now, Glafira Rosales, a 57-year-old dealer from Sands Point, Long Island, has admitted she knowingly "agreed with others to sell [inauthentic] works of art," passing off 63 or so works as paintings by artists including Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, via two prominent Manhattan galleries. One of these institutions, the Knoedler Gallery, on the Upper East Side, closed in 2011 following the forgery allegations.


Glafira Rosales
Glafira Rosales

Ms Rosales, faces penury, having agreed to forfeit $33,200,000, including her home in Sands Point, New York, and to pay restitution "in an amount not to exceed $81 million" according to US Attorney documents. She faces fake art, money laundering and tax fraud, charges which carry a maximum of 99 years in prison.

Yet jail terms, fake art and big money aren't the only things at stake here. The good name of our own Dr David Anfam, commissioning editor in fine art at Phaidon and a renowned expert in Abstract Expressionism, was briefly sullied when it was claimed, inaccurately, that he, along with Mark Rothko's son Christopher, had authenticated one of the works supplied by Rosales. Nothing could have been further from the truth. 

We hope that, in prosecuting Ms Rosales, the reputations of others involved are restored. To find out more about this story, go here. For greater (honest) insight into the epic and influential movement centered in New York in the decades following the Second World War, please consider our Abstract Expressionism book. And for some worldly advice on buying great works big or small, do pick up a copy of Ethan Wagner and Thea Westreich Wagner's illuminating and thoroughly entertaining Collecting Art for Love, Money and More.