A Spanish provincial court has sentenced an art collector to four years in prison for forging 15 works by artists including Edvard Munch, Saul Steinberg, and Roy Lichtenstein.
Out of the 16 works Guillermo Chamorro tried to sell to the Setdart auction house in January 2018, only one of them was found to be genuine. The forged works included seven pieces by the late Spanish sculptor Eduardo Chillida, a copy of Lichtenstein’s Whaam! diptych, a lithograph by Steinberg, and four lithographs by Spanish abstract expressionist José Guerrero.
The prosecutor’s office in Madrid had sought six and a half years of prison time for Chamorro on the charges of fraud and intellectual property theft. Chamorro was also ordered to pay damages of $50,900 to Guerrero’s heirs and $42,000 to the corporation managing Chillida’s estate.
An important part of the judges’ sentencing was whether Chamorro knew the works he had deposited with the Spanish auction house were forgeries. Whether or not the works were produced by Chamorro or a third party, the judges concluded the defendant knew they were false before depositing them at Setdart.
Francisco Baena, director of the José Guerrero Center in Granada, was one of the experts who testified during the trial. Baena said the paper and materials in the contested works were not the same as those used by Guerrero. “Guerrero was always firm and sure, but the painter of the works the police showed me was hesitant—as if he knew what he was making was a forgery,” Baena said in court.
News of the sentencing was first reported by the Guardian.