A man received a big surprise when he learned the six Andy Warhol paintings he purchased for $100,000 were fake.
The paintings had Warhol's signature on them, and were dated '96. The problem is Warhol died in 1987.
Two Utahns were charged Wednesday in the 3rd District Court for allegedly selling the fake artwork, a deception the buyer learned after trying to have the pieces appraised last year.
The pair also tried to sell the man a supposed lithograph of a pink cat done by Warhol that they said was worth $35,000 but was really a piece of newspaper attached to a frame, court records state. Two more instances include one attempted sale of a painting for $60,000 that was really valued at $1,000 and additional artwork claimed to be worth a couple million dollars.
For the initial fake Warhol paintings, the buyer provided a $25,000 down payment, with the promise to pay the remaining $75,000 the next week, court documents state. The art dealers also allegedly convinced the buyer that the paintings were inspired by a Matthew Baldwin, who they said was a brother to one of the Baldwin family actors, which is false, court records state. There is no Matthew Baldwin in that family.
Phillip Wagers, 65, of Cottonwood Heights and Melissa Granato, 29, of Saratoga Springs, were charged with theft by deception and communications fraud, both second-degree felonies; and six counts of forgery, a third-degree felony. Bail was set at $50,000 for Wagers and Granato at $25,000.
— Lana Groves