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Sadigh : king of fake sellers

Started by admin, August 11, 2012, 09:23:17 AM

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To preserve all this here in case original sources not available later

For years, law enforcement has prioritised the recovery of looted antiquities, not only because the smuggling of ancient artefacts harms the cultural heritage of their countries of origin, but also because illicit sales have sometimes funded the operations of drug gangs or terrorist organisations.

However, prosecutors claim that Mehrdad Sadigh, a New York antiquities dealer whose gallery has been operating in the shadow of the Empire State Building for decades, decided not to go through the trouble of acquiring ancient items.

Instead, he allegedly created thousands of phoney antiquities in a warren of offices just off his display area and then sold them to unsophisticated and overeager collectors.

"For many years, this phoney antiquities mill in midtown Manhattan promised customers rare treasures from the ancient world and instead sold them pieces manufactured on-site in cookie-cutter fashion," Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said in a statement following Mr. Sadigh's arrest earlier this month.

Mr. Sadigh has pleaded not guilty to charges of deception, grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument, forgery, and criminal simulation.

According to prosecutors, among those he sold to were undercover federal investigators who paid $4,000 for a gold pendant depicting Tutankhamen's death mask and a marble portrait head of an ancient Roman woman. These sales prompted a visit to the gallery in August by members of the district attorney's office and Homeland Security investigations, who claimed to have discovered hundreds of fake artefacts on shelves and inside glass cases. Thousands more, they claimed, had been discovered in the rooms behind the gallery, including scarabs, statuettes, and spear heads in various stages of preparation.

According to Matthew Bogdanos, the chief of the district attorney's Antiquities Trafficking Unit, the visit revealed a sort of assembly-line process designed to distress and otherwise alter mass-produced items of recent vintage so they appear aged. Investigators discovered varnish, spray paints, a belt sander, and mudlike substances of various hues and consistencies, among other tools and materials, he said.

Mr. Sadigh's lawyer, Gary Lesser, declined to comment on Tuesday.

According to the district attorney's office, Mr. Sadigh appeared to be one of the country's largest purveyors of fake artefacts based on the longevity of his business, the number of items seized from his gallery, and his "substantial financial gains."

Mr. Sadigh had run his gallery for decades, describing it on its website as "a family-owned art gallery specialising in ancient artefacts and coins from around the world."

The gallery was founded in 1978 as a small mail-order company, according to the website, and in 1982 it relocated to a suite of offices on the upper floor of a building at Fifth Avenue and East 31st Street.

Mr. Sadigh sold items he claimed were Anatolian, Babylonian, Byzantine, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian, and Sumerian from his location there. The gallery's website included an antiquities blog as well as customer testimonials. Google reviews were filled with client accounts, some of whom said they had been shopping there for years and many of whom mentioned how much they appreciated the personal service.

A mummified falcon dated to 305-30 B.C. ($9,000), an Egyptian sarcophagus mask carved from wood and dated to 663-525 B.C. ($5,000), and an iron and nickel fragment from a meteorite that landed in Mongolia ($1,500) were among the items listed for sale on the website in late 2020 and early 2021.

According to the website, "all of our antiquities are guaranteed authentic."

Mr. Sadigh was brought to the attention of investigators pursuing other dealers involved in the trafficking of looted antiquities, who complained, according to Mr. Bogdanos, that his office was not paying attention to "the guy selling all the fakes."

When investigators looked into the Sadigh gallery, Mr. Bogdanos said they found someone "too big to not investigate," rather than a sidewalk peddler of cheap knockoffs.

Mr. Bogdanos recognised a copy of an 11th-century ceramic Khmer Buddha sculpture in the gallery; the original had been seized by the district attorney's office in a separate case. Other items in the gallery appeared to be replicas of stolen objects from the Iraq Museum, thefts that Mr. Bogdanos assisted in investigating while serving as a Marine colonel in Iraq in 2003.

(Mr. Bogdanos led an effort to recover thousands of items looted by looters during Baghdad's fall.)

Following Mr. Sadigh's arrest, prosecutors obtained a second warrant allowing them to search for tools used in the modification of antiquities or "objects purporting to be antiquities," as well as items such as a $50,000 sarcophagus, a $40,000 cylinder seal, and a $25,000 statue of the goddess Artemis, all of which were suspected of being fakes.

Mr. Sadigh had previously been associated with a dispute over the authenticity of items he had sold, despite his positive online reviews.
This refers to the matter in the posting one before above regarding :

gaius asinius

Unbelievable! Maybe Mr. Sadigh will soon be making GENUINE license plates at Rikers Island. Good riddance!!



Friday, 3 September 2021
Iowa Takes Credit for Revealing the bleeding Obvious

Parker Jones, Arts Reporter for the Daily Iowan claims (September 2, 2021) 'Decades-long scheme exposed: UI professor and grad student uncover forged antiquities'.

A massive forgery scheme has been exposed, and it all began with the discoveries of a University of Iowa art history professor and graduate student when they discovered over 90 fake artifacts in an exhibit at the Hoover museum. Innumerable artifacts forged, thousands of dollars defrauded, and countless individuals and businesses deceived — without the discoveries of a University of Iowa professor and graduate student, it all may never have been unearthed. In April 2019 ...

How disappointed he would be to find out that if he'd done some research for his article - precisely on that "arts" market, he'd quickly come across a whole number of resources warning of the alleged problems with items from the stock of a particular dealer. We could start with the thread "Sadigh: king of fake sellers" thread on the Ancientartifakes Forum of August 11, 2012, detailing (with links, many still active) the efforts of collectors to attract attention to this issue. There was a petition in 2013 - here are some of the comments from it. Dealers, mindful of the fact that their profits are reliant on the market ever-expanding and not contracting, were reporting him wherever they could, afraid that if too many people found out later that they'd bought items that could not be considered genuine, the public would lose confidence in the market in its present no-questions-asked form. There's a pinterest page of 2013 raising some issues. From the same year, there is a cautionary TripAdvisor page reporting problems.  Some of the comments on a Yelp page are worth consideration (but look at the positive reviews too). The ICOM International Observatory on Illicit Traffic in Cultural Goods website has since 2013 featured prominently the well-made You Tube video made by a group of collector/dealer activists raising these issues (that I'll embed below if you've not seen it). One buyer was a "James" who bought some things from the dealer back in 2007 - the responses he got from the forum shows this problem was recognised well before 2013. He had already found himself right at the top on the forum's April 18, 2005, list of notorious fake sellers. Interestingly, and presciently, one forum member referred back in 2007 to the dealer's "basement-built antiquities". On Worthpoint there are a series of sales offers that provide information about this dealer (I am not clear who posted these items).

There is actually lots more. As can be seen, the 'core' collecting community - especially in the US at least - was already aware that there were problems with this dealer's objects fifteen years ago, and made an effort to alert potential fellow buyers to this issue. I do not know whether the dealer was reported to anyone at this time, but certainly the information was out there to find - if you look. In 2012-2013, there was a concerted effort to get the dealer closed down by raising awareness and by reporting him. There are many fake sellers in the market, but this one particularly provoked the ire of the collecting community and fellow dealers - part of the reason was the way he allegedly responded, with legal threats.

But this affair shows the inability of the antiquities market to self-regulate itself. The campaign petered out (the petition only got 155 signatures for example) and nobody took any interest, the dealer stayed in business as before, buyers still kept purchasing his stuff, and the Manhattan authorities just let this carry on right under their noses. The same thing happened with Kapoor. The Manhattan authorities turned a blind eye to many years activity right under their noses and only acted when their citizen was arrested in Europe and extradited to India. Then they decided to take their own look into the gallery, and act "surprised" about the scale of what they them (but only then) found.

In the recent case, what seem to be "basement-built antiquities" were openly flogged for three decades (I think it was) and everybody knew what was going on. Dealers were concerned, the rest of us engaged in schadenfreude, when seeing what people were purchasing as antiquities, laughing at the gullible people that stubbornly and pig-headedly ignored the maxim, "first buy the book, then the antiquity".

I do not know how many of the people who were disappointed to be told later that what they had bought were not genuine antiquities and got their money back reported the dealer (in the public interest). But however many it was, it would seem indeed to be the case that the Manhattan DA only took an interest when it was a Presidential Museum that fell indirectly a victim to the process. If that is so, that really shows the pitiful extent that the antiquities market in the US is scrutinised and regulated by the authorities. Think of that the next time the DA get out their decorative tablecloth to display some more antiquities they are "repatriating" as the good guys, with all the speeches and canapes. Here's the video. As far as I know, there was never any response from the gallery showing sample (even) documentation of the legitimate sources from which these antiquities had been obtained. Maybe we'll see it in the court case.

Posted on You Tube Mar 3, 2013 by ' sadighgalleryfakes'

One would like to believe that they picked out the worst from the dealer's stock to make this video. Having seen quite a lot of photos of the items he sells (they are widely posted in collectors' forums and held up for ridicule), I am not so sure. There are obviously a lot of gullible people out there who buy antiquities and are not equipped to understand/interpret/analyse what they have before their eyes, or have in their hands.

Mr Barford says:
But this affair shows the inability of the antiquities market to self-regulate itself.

No, that is nonsense! Sadigh was never a member of the proper antiquities market!!  He was just a crook.
This long standing fiasco of him getting away with fraud for so long was NOT the inability of the antiquities market to self-regulate itself but simply an example of how criminals can get away with their fraud despite people trying to get the"authorities" involved and get him prosecuted. The problem continues  of course on eBay!!!


Does seem a very light penalty for such a very long histiory of extensive fraud!

Manhattan art dealer is sentenced to five years probation for fake Egyptian artifact factory where he sold spray-painted and varnished phony relics for up to $4k to unsuspected collectors for decades

    Mehrdad Sadigh, who sold fake artifacts at Sadigh Gallery on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue since 1982, was sentenced to five years of probation on Tuesday
    Prosecutors allege that for the past 39 years, Sadigh passed off the fake artifacts as ancient relics to unsuspecting customers
    To remain under the radar, Sadigh said he hired a company to remove customers' complaints online and bury negative reviews
    He said he also convinced people to write fake positive reviews about his store
    Sadigh was caught after selling to undercover federal investigators a fake Egyptian and Roman relic for $4,000 each in August
    After the sales, members of the DA's office and Homeland Security Investigations visited the gallery and found hundreds of fake artifacts displayed
    Investigators also found the tools that Sadigh used to age the phony antiques, varnish, sanders and spray paint
    Prosecutors say that, based on the number of years he ran his busines

gaius asinius

Five years probation for protracted grand larceny??!! Minorities in underprivileged neighborhoods get prison sentences for stealing Pez. This fool gets a slap on the wrist??!!


gaius asinius

Any reference to RESTITUTION anywhere? Does he get to keep the Pez too??!!


Does not feel like justice to me!
I think duped buyers would have to  go after him in the small claims courts.
Will many botyher??? Probably not.
So he comes out on top. He made a lot of money. Bought several properties in NY state.