Pei-Shen Qian, a painter accused of forging works by Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Willem de Kooning, among others, has fled to China after authorities caught on to his US$33 million fraud scheme. Qian faces up to 45 years in prison if he returns to the US.
Qian, the painter, worked with two Spanish art dealers to produce and sell his forgeries at upscale Manhattan galleries. China isn’t particularly fond of extraditing its citizens to the United States, and one hopes that, by now, Qian has set-up shop churning out paintings on Taobao.
In an interview last year, Qian told Bloomberg, “he was the innocent victim of a “very big misunderstanding” and had never intended to pass off his paintings as the genuine works of modern masters. “I made a knife to cut fruit,” he said. “But if others use it to kill, blaming me is unfair.”‘
Except, you know, here the “knife” is an exact replica of a multi-million dollar painting, done specifically for resale in galleries, and Qian even forged artist’s signatures onto the paintings and covered the canvas with tea-bags to make it look older. But, well, tomato tomato.