When artist and art lover Rich Edgely bought a signed Salvador Dali print for $700 a number of years ago, it seemed like a bargain.
Now the York Community High School art teacher is thinking it might be an expensive mistake. The print he was once proud to show on his walls might be a fake.
"You would never expect any kind of wring doing going on," said the St. Charles man of the Huron Street gallery where he bought the print entitled "The Horse and Rider."
Edgely learned last week that the owner of the Kass/Meridian Gallery was named in a federal indictment for allegedly selling counterfeits of that Dali work and other famous pieces.
The indictment alleges the Chicago galleries and others around the country earned more than $480,000 as part of an international scheme to sell unauthorized prints.
The gallery's owner, Alan Kass, could not be reached for comment
"To have something in my house, from a master, that was pretty amazing," said Edgely.
Now he said the whole experience is a teachable moment for his students on the importance of intellectual property to artists.
Although it likely would be prohibitively expensive to sue, Edgely may turn to an Illinois law called the Fine Prints Disclosure Act for help. The law, drafted in the 1970’s by noted arts attorney Scott Hodes, allows for fines up to $1,000 for galleries who knowingly sell fakes.
It also may help those who have been ripped off to recover up to three times what they paid for the art.
Hodes is now lobbying for stricter fines for galleries who deceive their customers.
"This is getting to be a serious problem," he said. "People trust their dealer. Let’s make it tough on the dishonest ones."