Northern Michigan: Great Fishing and World-Class Art Forgers
If you've ever watched "Pawn Stars" on History Channel, you know that the guy that runs the store, Rick Harrison, is always suspicious of the possibility he's being sold counterfeit items. The FBI just proved him right after raiding a house near Traverse City. A property that apparently was a factory turning out counterfeit art and sports memorabilia.
This week, according to the Detroit News, after a four year investigation, the FBI raided a property in Cedar, Michigan (located between Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes). There they found art supplies, "probable forged paintings" and old baseballs, baseball bats and gloves. There were no arrests, but the FBI believes the target of the investigation, an artist named Donald "D.B" Henkel, was producing art work that looked exactly like the work of several famous artists and selling them, nationwide, to art galleries and collectors.
According to Elizabeth Feld, who manages Hirschl & Adler in New York City, one of the top American art galleries:
“These were very beautiful – fake or not. Whoever did this is quite an accomplished artist — just not the artist he or she purported to be.”
Ms. Feld should know. Her gallery spent about $500,000 on some of this phony artwork.
Also under investigation - old baseball bats and balls being sold as items that had once belonged to legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
If this is proven to be true, it's genius. From what I understand, these paintings were not copies of famous pieces. They were one-of-a-kind pieces made to look like certain marketable artists had painted them. Some of these pieces were going for hundreds of thousands of dollars to art dealers who you would think would know if they were real or not.
And somewhere (Las Vegas), Rick Harrison is nodding.