A New York City art dealer was busted, accused of forging thousands of antiquities and selling them in his Manhattan gallery for decades.
Prosecutors say Mehrdad Sadigh, a New York antiquities dealer who ran Sadigh Gallery created phony antiques in the back offices of his Fifth Avenue showroom.
Prosecutors allege that for decades Sadigh would then pass off the fake artifacts as ancient relics to unsuspecting customers who believed they were adding rare treasures to their collections.
‘For many years, this fake antiquities mill based in midtown Manhattan promised customers rare treasures from the ancient world and instead sold them pieces manufactured on-site in cookie-cutter fashion,’ Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., said in a statement.
Prosecutors allege that for decades Sadigh passed off the fake artifacts as ancient relics to unsuspecting customers
Prosecutors say Sadigh stored and manufactured fake items in rooms behind the gallery, which was located on an upper floor of a building on Fifth Avenue
Prosecutors seized thousands of fake artifacts stored in the backroom on Sadigh’s Manhattan gallery
Prosecutors allege that for decades Sadigh passed off the fake artifacts as ancient relics to unsuspecting customers, who believed they were adding rare treasures to their collections
Prosecutors said that, based on the number of years he ran his business, the quantity of items seized from his gallery and Sadigh’s ‘substantial financial gains’, it’s possible he may have been the biggest seller of fake artifacts in the U.S.
Sadigh pleaded not guilty earlier this month.
Prosecutors discovered Sadigh while investigating dealers selling stolen antiquities who asked why they were ignoring ‘the guy selling all the fakes’, Matthews Bogdanos, the head of the DA’s Antiquities Trafficking Unit, told the New York Times.
Sadigh sold two undercover federal investigators a gold pendant depicting the death mask of Tutankhamun and a marble portrait head of an ancient Roman woman for $4,000 each, leading to his arrest, prosecutors said.
After the sales, members of the DA’s office and Homeland Security Investigations visited the gallery, and found hundreds of fake items displayed on shelves and inside glass cases. Thousands more were discovered in rooms behind the gallery.
Members of the DA’s office and Homeland Security Investigations visited the gallery and found thousands more were discovered in rooms behind the gallery
Prosecutors said they found thousands of objects in the back rooms of the gallery that were treated to make them seem ancient
Investigators also found the tools Sadigh used to age the phony antiques using including varnish, sanders, spray paint and mud-like substances.
Sadigh was arrested and pleaded not guilty August 6 to charges of scheming to defraud, grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument, forgery and criminal simulation.
He was released on his own recognizance and is due in court in October.
The Times reported that in late 2020 and early 2021, his gallery’s site listed a mummified falcon dated 305-30 BC for $9,000, an Egyptian sarcophagus mask carved from wood dated 663-525 BC for $5,000, and an iron and nickel fragment from a meteorite that landed in Mongolia for $1,500.
The authenticity of Sadigh’s artifacts was called into question prior to the investigation in 2019. The Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum in Iowa canceled a planned visiting exhibition after Bjorn Anderson, an art history professor at the University of Iowa, said ‘the majority’ of its items once sold by the Sadigh gallery appeared to be fakes, the Times reported.
‘I don’t know anything about this,’ Sadigh told The West Branch Times in response to cancellation at the time.
Prosecutors say Mehrdad Sadigh, a New York antiquities dealer who ran Sadigh Gallery created thousands of phony antiques in the back offices of his Fifth Avenue showroom
Published by Associated Newspapers Ltd
Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group