Foundry Owner Pleads Guilty to Selling Fake Bronzes

The other day I posted on fake and unlicensed bronzes from Asia being sold as both art and as decorative items. I thought it was interesting and something appraisers should be aware of. Today I read in the NY Times about a Queens foundry owner who was supposed to have destroyed a mold given to him by Jasper Johns to create a wax cast. The John's cast was never destroyed and the foundry, (Empire Bronze Art Foundry) produced a John's "Flag" bronze which it tried to sell it for $11 million.

So in the two articles we see the two extremes, mass produced, digitally scanned copied sculptures, probably easy to detect and relatively inexpensive, and the other end of the spectrum, where an unauthorized bronze sculpture was produced from the artist's own mold offered at $11 million.

If I recall, and also date myself, from the 1980s police drama Hill Street Blues, "Let's be careful out there"

The NY Times reports
A Queens foundry owner who had pleaded guilty to selling or attempting to sell fake bronze sculptures by Jasper Johns and other artists was sentenced to 30 months in prison on Thursday.

Brian Ramnarine, who owned the Empire Bronze Art Foundry in Long Island City, had tried to sell an imitation of one of Mr. Johns’s flag sculptures for $11 million. Mr. Johns had given him a mold in 1990 of his famous 1960 metallic collage “Flag” in order to make a wax cast. But instead of destroying the mold, Mr. Ramnarine used it to make a new bronze flag and forged Mr. Johns’s signature.

Mr. Ramnarine was also found guilty of trying to pawn off works falsely billed as created by Robert Indiana and Saint Clair Cemin.

“Brian Ramnarine’s only art was as a con artist who concocted and carried out not one, but three separate schemes to peddle fake sculptures to unsuspecting buyers for million of dollars, pretending they had been made by well-known artists,” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.

During Thursday’s sentencing, according to The Daily News, Mr. Ramnarine said to United States District Judge John G. Koeltl: “I’m sorry. I’m sorry to bring shame on my family.”
Source: The NY Times

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