Jesus Angel Bergantinos Diaz, an alleged partner of Glafira Rosales in her sale of a cache of counterfeit paintings through the Knoedler Gallery, can be extradited to the United States, Spain’s National Court has ruled. The news, which was first reported by the Associated Press, means that Diaz can face charges—including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and money laundering—in New York City for helping Rosales sell dozens of fakes through Knoedler over the course of 15 years.
Rosales claimed that the forgeries were by famous Abstract Expressionist artists—including Robert Motherwell, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko—though the paintings were in fact made by a Chinese immigrant in Queens, Pei Shen Qian. Diaz, his brother Jose (also an alleged co-conspirator, who has asked to be tried in Spain, the AP reported), and Rosales made more than $33 million from the scheme, according to a grand jury indictment filed in March of 2014. Qian, who was also indicted, has said he was paid only a few thousand dollars for making the works, and that he did not know they were being marketed as authentic paintings. He has since returned to China. The Diaz brothers were arrested in April of 2014 at a hotel in Seville, Spain.
Knoedler has made out-of-court settlements with a number of collectors who purchased fake paintings since shutting down operations in 2011. Rosales pled guilty in 2013 to nine counts including money laundering, tax evasion, and wire fraud. Last week, Domenico and Eleanore De Sole, the first collectors to go to trail over the purchase of a Rosales forgery, settled for an undisclosed sum after nearly three weeks of damning testimony that centered on a fake Mark Rothko, which they bought from Knoedler for $8.3 million in 2004.
UPDATE 02/16/2016, 4:30 p.m.: An original version of this post, based on early information reported by the AP, misidentified which Diaz brother Spain's National Court ruled could be extradited to the U.S. to face charges in New York. It is Jesus, not Jose. The post has been updated to reflect this.