Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz, a Spanish art dealer has been arrested as part of the widening search for suspects involved in the Knoedler & Company art swindle. According to officials Bergantiños has been sought for many months. He was arrested by the Spanish police on Friday at a luxury hotel in downtown Seville, according to officials. Mr. Bergantiños’s partner is Glafira Rosales, the main suspect in the case. Ms Rosales pleaded guilty after she was charged in September in New York. She has been cooperating with the federal authorities.
The case involved the sale of over $80 million dollars worth of fraudulent Abstract Expressionist work, which included names like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko Willem de Kooning and Robert Motherwell. The scam has led to several civil lawsuits, from the clients who purchased the paintings. Knoedler & Company, the oldest commercial gallery in New York closed its doors forever in 2012 as a result of the scandal. The former director of Knoedler Ann Freedman has denied any wrongdoing in all cases of the sale of forgeries to any of the collectors involved. The former Director said she would “vigorously defend the lawsuit and the allegations are baseless.”
Mr. Bergantiños’s brother, Jesus Angel Bergantiños Diaz, was also arrested. No charges have been made in the case but it is thought that the United States will seek to extradite them. The search for the $33 million netted from the con and transferred to bank accounts in his name in Spain continues.