In a Manhattan courtroom earlier today Vincent Lopreto was charged with selling $400,000 worth of fake Damien Hirst prints over two years. Lopreto, who previously served time in New York state prison for selling forged Hirsts, pleaded not guilty. Two other men, Marco Saverino and Paul Motta, have also been charged in the alleged scheme and are being held out of state.
Lopreto was apprehended in New Orleans last Wednesday, according to The Times-Picayune. The arrest followed a sting operation by undercover New York police officers, who purchased two of Lopreto’s allegedly fake Hirst prints, which authorities say he and the other defendants were peddling for between $3,000 to $14,000 apiece. They claim that Lopreto had been advertising the “limited edition” prints online alongside fake certificates of authenticity and purchase receipts.
“Vincent Lopreto is charged with resuming the same scheme to knock off Damien Hirst artworks that sent him to prison just 15 days after being released,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, said in a statement. He added that this case of fraud “went beyond plain imitation” as the defendants had deceived “a multitude of buyers into purchasing counterfeit art that was falsely passed off as genuine.”
Lopreto’s attorney, Sol Schwartzberg, declined to comment since he had just taken the case and was reviewing documents. According to DNA Info, Lopreto could receive a sentence of up to 20 year in prison if he is convicted.