article by Lorena Muñoz-Alonso | artnet news | February 23, 2015
Spanish Police have arrested two brothers from Girona, Spain, who attempted to sell a fake Francisco de Goya painting to a purported sheikh, EFE reports. But the “sheikh” was no victim: he paid the pair with photocopied money.
The con artists realized they had been tricked when they tried to deposit 1.7 million Swiss francs (€1.5 million) in a Geneva bank and were told that the banknotes were mere photocopies.
Spanish police officers found out about the scam in December 2014, when the Avignon customs warned them that they had intercepted two Spanish brothers trying to smuggle 1.7 million fake Swiss francs.
The sheikh had purportedly agreed to pay a total of €4 million for the Goya painting, entitled Portrait of don Antonio María Esquivel. The first batch of cash was to be collected in Turin, and was delivered by a middleman from the prince’s entourage. Apparently, the brothers verified the cash was legit with a machine, but the middleman managed to switch it before they left for Switzerland.
To add insult to injury, the brothers had also given a €300,000 premium to the middleman who had introduced them to the sheikh. In order to do so, they had asked a friend to lend them the money, promising to give it back the following day, with an extra €80,000.
But things did not pan out as expected. …