Gallery Owner Sold Fake Warhols: Cops

The owner allegedly made more than $480,000 on the counterfeit prints

Wednesday, Apr 6, 2011  |  Updated 3:36 PM CDT
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Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

U.S. Postal and FBI agents raid the Kass Meridian Gallery at 325 W. Huron on Jan. 31, 2008.

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A River North gallery owner has been indicted on Federal charges for allegedly selling hundreds of counterfeit and unauthorized prints by Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol and other famous artists.

The indictment was handed down Tuesday for Alan Kass, 73, the owner and operator of Kass/Meridian Gallery, at 325 W. Huron. Kass was charged with four counts of mail and wire fraud for knowingly acquiring the counterfeit prints.

Feds also indicted KMG employee Sawyer K. Cade along with John Panos, of New York and Florida, who allegedly distributed the forged artwork to Kass and others.

The three will be ordered to appear for arraignment at a later date in U.S. District Court in Chicago, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney's office.

Kass and Panos allegedly made fake markings on the prints to make them look like limited-edition works, then Kass and Cade sold them on eBay, at auctions and on two Internet websites Cade maintained for KMG.

The indictment seeks forfeiture of $480,000, the amount Kass fraudulently made through the sale of the fake artwork.

The charges stem from an international investigation of fraudulent artwork. Three years ago, the investigation was made public in Chicago when federal agents executed search warrants at KMG.

In March 2008, seven defendants from Europe, Florida, New York and Illinois were charged with fraudulently producing or selling $5 million worth of counterfeit fine art prints.

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