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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

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FBI Busts West Hollywood Woman for Allegedly Selling Fake Picasso Painting for $2 million

The Fake Picasso/gov photo

The Fake Picasso/gov photo

By Allan Lengel

The old saying goes that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

But the FBI in Los Angeles apparently isn’t buying that one — at least not this time.

The FBI has busted a West Hollywood antiques dealer who has been charged with fraud  in a scheme that involved the sale of a fake Pablo Picasso painting for $2 million.

According to authorities, antiques dealer Tatiana Khan, 69, paid an artist $1,000 to fabricate the painting — a 1902 pastel called “La Femme Au Chapeau Bleu,” or “The Woman in the Blue Hat”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said alleged that Khan told the artist that “the real Picasso artwork had been stolen from one of Khan’s clients and that Khan needed the copy to play a trick that would help catch the thief.”

On Friday, agent arrested Khan and also seized a $700,000 de Kooning painting she allegedly bought with the money she got from the fraudulent sale of the fake Picasso.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office charged that “Khan told the purchaser that the fake Picasso was worth much more than $2 million, but that she was able to sell it for less than market value because it came from the Malcolm Forbes family estate. Khan allegedly told the purchaser that she was acting as the broker for the Forbes family, which wanted their paintings sold privately due to a dispute within the family.”

The FBI began looking into the matter when the purchaser contacted Picasso expert in 2009 who said the painting was a fake, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office said the FBI contacted Khan, who allegedly told the artist of the fake painting “not to divulge that she had created the purported Picasso. When Khan herself was interviewed by the FBI, according to the complaint, Khan claimed that she had obtained the drawing from a cosmetologist who worked near Chateau Allegré as collateral for a $40,000 loan.”

The criminal complaint charges Khan with wire fraud, making false statements to the FBI and witness tampering. This morning, the FBI informed Khan of the charges by delivering a summons that directed Khan to appear in federal court for an initial appearance on January 27.

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