#datingscams | Fugitive mastermind behind world’s biggest art scam breaks silence 

He was subject to a criminal case and also private lawsuits brought by several collectors who had spent considerable sums on the phony works, dating back to the mid-1990s.

However, prosecutors have been unable to extradite him from Spain, where he fled soon after the charges were brought.

The fake art was created by Pei-Shen Qian, a Chinese immigrant who admitted he made more than 60 forgeries in the basement of his home in Queens for Ms Rosales, who sold them to Knoedler Gallery. 

Mr Qian’s paintings, which were mostly copied from Modernist artists, were so convincing that acknowledged experts and sophisticated collectors did not identify them as frauds.

Ms Rosales, 63, pleaded guilty to nine counts of conspiracy, fraud and other crimes in 2013, telling the authorities that Mr Bergantiños Diaz used threats and abuse to coerce her into continuing with the scheme.

She was ordered to give back the $33.2 million she made from the scam, but avoided a prison sentence after judges agreed Mr Bergantiños Diaz was the mastermind.

But Mr Bergantiños Díaz tells a different story, claiming Ms Rosales had the most contact with Mr Qian and that it was her who had the business relationship with Knoedler.

“I didn’t know everything she was selling or buying because we were distanced from each other and I have my own networks,” he said, speaking sometimes through a translator.

He claimed that he was not aware that Ms Rosales was selling work made by Mr Qian as the real thing.

He also said she was lying when she told police he mistreated her. “I forgive her and she is the mother of my daughter and I wish her the best,” he told the filmmaker.

Knoedler & Co shut down in the wake of the controversy, Mr Qian escaped to China, while Ms Rosales was working until recently as a waitress in a Brooklyn diner.

“I think the only people that weren’t humiliated were Carlos Bergantiños, Glafira Rosales and Pei-Shen Qian,” filmmaker Mr Avrich, who spent years tracking them all down, told the New York Times. “I think everybody else was humiliated.”

Bryan Skarlatos, Ms Rosales’s solicitor, declined to comment on her behalf.

“However,” he said. “I believe that she may be willing to speak in the coming months and, if so, what she says will be very different from Mr Diaz’s story.”

Mr Avrich said he had no doubt that, as the federal authorities have charged, the pair worked closely together in the scam.

“They were the Bonnie and Clyde of the art world after all,” Mr Avrich said.

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