In 1991, the Postal Inspection Service, the Department of Justice, Interpol and the Federal Trade Commission cracked a billion dollar art forgery ring led by Leon Amiel. With his family, Amiel, a bookseller, printed counterfeit art works in a New Jersey warehouse. He forged artists’ signatures and sold these forgeries through the mail to unsuspecting buyers.
Led by Inspector Jack Ellis, the sting operation included the undercover purchase of 22 counterfeit works, and interviews with international art experts. The transaction and research led to a raid and the discovery of over 100,000 pieces of bogus art—or Bogart. Inspectors seized reproductions of work by Marc Chagall, Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Pablo Picasso.