Palm Beach art dealer Daniel Elie Bouaziz has been sentenced to 27 months in federal prison, followed by three years’ probation, for a money laundering scheme to sell counterfeit contemporary artworks, including pieces purportedly by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Banksy.
The Algeria-born Bouaziz was arrested in May 2022 for his involvement in the operation to defraud customers, following an FBI raid of one of his Palm Beach galleries, Danieli Fine Art, in December 2021.
Per the indictment, Bouaziz’s enterprises purchased cheap reproductions from online auction sites and marketed them as originals at exorbitant prices. He provided misleading provenance documents to create the appearance of authenticity, as well as “false assertions and appraisals,” with a stamped signature block that read “Daniel Bouaziz, Certified International Fine Art Appraiser,” according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida’s statement in 2022.
Among the counterfeit works believed to have been peddled by his gallery was a “Basquiat” that he bought on LiveAuctioneers for $495, and later flipped to an undercover FBI agent for $12 million. A member of the Basquiat estate’s since-disbanded authentication committee identified the painting as a forgery, according to the criminal complaint affidavit.
Bouaziz was also accused of selling numerous artworks falsely attributed to Andy Warhol—and supposedly signed by the artist—priced between $75,000 and $240,000, and a “Roy Lichtenstein” print to an undercover agent for $25,000. A comparison of the Lichtenstein reproduction to an image of the original in the artist’s catalogue raisonné revealed several discrepancies in the color schemes.
Authorities were first contacted after clients of Bouaziz began to demand the return of their payments, without success. “Other victims, who also reported concerns to Bouaziz about the authenticity of their purchased work, both before and after the execution of the gallery search warrants, received some repayment from Bouaziz,” the complaint stated.
Bouaziz has also been ordered to pay a $15,000 fine.