A Florida court on May 30 sentenced Palm Beach art dealer Daniel Elie Bouaziz to twenty-seven months in federal prison for a money-laundering scheme involving the sale of inauthentic artworks by such luminaries as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Bouaziz was additionally ordered to pay a $15,000 fine; on his release from prison, he will remain on probation for three years. The Algerian-born Bouaziz, who holds dual citizenship in France and Israel, was in the US on a B-2 visitor’s visa, the New York Times reports; he will likely be deported upon his release.
Bouaziz sold forged works, many of which were reproductions that he had purchased for a song on the internet, through three separate companies, two of them Palm Beach galleries with tony Worth Avenue addresses. The works were typically attended by fake provenances bearing the stamp “Daniel Bouaziz, Certified International Fine Art Appraiser”; some pieces bore falsified signatures. Among the more spectacular sales attempted by the discredited dealer was that of a Basquiat reproduction that he bought from online platform LiveAuctioneers for $495 and offered for $12 million to an undercover FBI agent. Other sales included that of a $100 Warhol reproduction, which netted Bouaziz $85,000, and that of a Lichtenstein work for a comparatively inexpensive $25,000, to yet another undercover agent. The grifting gallerist’s transgressions came to light in December 2021, when the FBI and IRS raided his galleries Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli; he was arrested in May 2022.
Despite his crimes, the sixty-nine-year-old Bouaziz had earned a reputation for his generosity and philanthropy and as part of his defense submitted more than fifty letters attesting to his character. To date, he has repaid $246,000 to those whom he defrauded; he has promised to repay all eleven of his victims within forty-five days. His restitution hearing is slated for August 16.