In a wonderful twist of irony, two Spanish brothers who attempted to sell a fake Goya painting were paid in fake cash. Apparently the brothers had purchased the painting several years prior, thinking that it was real. After paying the deposit, they had it appraised and that is when they learned that it was a fake. A court found that they were not obligated to pay the remaining sums due, and, what began all of this, let them keep the painting.
Armed with a fake Goya, the brothers attempted to find a buyer for it, touting it as the real thing. They found a person who was willing to seek out buyers, but required a fee. The brothers took out a loan to pay this middleman’s fee. Through the middleman, they found a “sheik” (we don’t know if he was really a sheik) who was willing to purchase the painting…in Swiss francs of course. The scam was revealed when the brothers took the francs to the bank, and the bank revealed that they were fake. Not only were they fake, they were mere photocopies of real Swiss francs. Of course the police were brought in to investigate.
The “sheik” and the middleman have disappeared. However, the police were able to recover the fake Goya. The brothers should have counted themselves lucky the first time when the court held that they were not responsible for the full cost of the painting due to the fact it was a fake. Instead, they tempted fate by trying to sell it as a real Goya and make a nice profit for themselves. What they got instead was liability for the loan to pay the middleman and potential charges of fraud and even counterfeiting by passing along fake money, and probably other charges that will result in jail time.
The moral of the story? Make sure your sales and purchases of art are in the legitimate art market, and not in back alley dealings with middlemen and anonymous buyers.