26 Aug 2010

Italian collectors sold fake paintings

9:10 pm on 26 August 2010

Art collectors in Italy have been duped out of €8.8 million euros after buying fake paintings.

Police have arrested 12 people for forgery and 500 works have been seized, including copies of paintings by Matisse, Magritte and Fontana.

The counterfeits came to light during police raids on the homes of dozens of legitimate art collectors throughout Italy and investigators say collectors had bought the pictures on the internet in good faith, the BBC reports.

The fraud was discovered after police monitored payment transactions on well-known websites and by consulting art historians.

Police say the fakes were of good quality, with the forgers meticulously reproducing paintings using the original techniques of the genuine artists.