}

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

THE CASE OF THE SUBWAY PORTFOLIO CASE: You'll Be Stunned To Learn Who Authenticated At Least Two Of The “Fugazi” Jean-Michel Basquiat Artworks David Damante Used In His Art Scam; (Hint: He's A Reality TV “Go-To” Art Expert!)

“VALUE DETERMINATION FOR POTENTIAL RESALE”: PART FOUR OF AN EXCLUSIVE MULTI-PART SERIES! 

“I believe an appropriate apposite value for “Helicopter Cityscape” to be $6,500,000.”

Several weeks before snagging his first victims, Rick Belcastro and Brandon Holmes, David Damante obtained an important tool that enabled him to perpetrate his year-long art fraud scam: a June 7, 2017 letter from Las Vegas gallery Art encounter authenticating a painting Damante possessed as the work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Later, an Art encounter appraiser issued an extensive “Valuation Determination for Potential Resale” for the artwork, entitled “Helicopter Cityscape”, pegging its Fair Market Value at $6,500,000.

Using documents obtained from a confidential source, including the proof of authenticity and appraisal, which a Las Vegas-based Art encounter representative acknowledged in a July 23, 2018 email were genuine, here is the untold story of how Damante used the Art encounter-generated documents (along with a bundle of forged and misleading documents) to pull off an art scam that landed him back in federal custody.

THE ART OF DECEPTION: FAKES, FORGERIES & APPRAISALS

As you might expect, this story begins in prison.

David Damante met co-conspirator, Lumsden (Lu) Quan, while the two were serving time at FCI Terminal Island in Long Beach, California.

Described in a July 18, 2018 post, Damante and Quan both had extensive fraud backgrounds.

Shortly after his February 28, 2017 release, Damante showed up in Las Vegas at Art encounter, retrieving the Basquiat painting Quan claimed to have purchased from Stephen Stilgenbauer at his Costa Mesa, California, coin shop in 2012—before claiming in a December 20, 2013 “Bill of Sale of Personal Property” that he'd actually sold the painting to Damante's father, Angelo, for $750,000.

Confused?

Don't be...Miss Fortune will explain it all.

“I BELIEVE WITHOUT RESERVATION THAT THE HAND OF JEAN M. BASQUIAT HAS CREATED THIS WORK OF ART.” 

Following the established paper trail, it appears Damante retrieved Quan's painting from Art encounter in Las Vegas on March 3, 2017.


Roughly three months later, on June 7, 2017, Art encounter's Executive Director, Scott Ferguson, issued a letter to David “Diamante”, opining that the painting formerly housed at the gallery was actually the art world's version of a “unicorn”, a lost work created by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Holy shit!

A Basquiat!

Less than one month before Ferguson issued his letter to Mr. David Diamante of Sinuessa Fine Art LLC, an untitled Basquiat painting of a skull sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York, setting an auction record for American artists and providing a windfall for the daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984.

That's a helluva return on investment. (Scroll down for the story.)

Ferguson asserted in a March 12, 2016 affidavit (shown below) that he “personally knew Jean during the early years of his career. I attended the High School of Art & Design while he attended a social experiment school called, City As School.” 

In a recent Pawn Stars episode, Ferguson (at left), and Art encounter's Brett Maly (center), an appraiser with a recurring role on as the show's “go-to” art expert, authenticate three postcards as rare artworks created by Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Rick Harrison, owner of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, purchased three postcards from the “seller” for $50,000.



Call me crazy, but those postcards look eerily similar to the crap Kevin Doyle sells on eBay!

The same postcards Doyle claims Basquiat just happened to leave in an art portfolio on a New York City subway that he and Basquiat just happened to be riding together...nearly 40 years ago.


Later today, the rest of the story.

TRUST ME, I'M ON REALITY TV!

Another Glistening, Quivering Underbelly exclusive.




Friday, July 20, 2018

THE CASE OF THE SUBWAY PORTFOLIO CASE: Who Created The “Fugazi” Jean-Michel Basquiat Artworks David Damante Used In His Art Scam? Was The Prospect Of Screwing People Over Just Too Enticing For Taryn Burns, William Michael Force & Kevin Doyle Not To Get The Band Back Together Again?

Kevin Doyle: Fugazi Forger?
“IT’S SURPRISING TO LEARN LUMSDEN FACES SENTENCING IN A CRIMINAL COURT.”: PART THREE OF AN EXCLUSIVE MULTI-PART SERIES! 

On one occasion, Basquiat and Doyle rode the subway together, and the artist departed the train first leaving behind a large art case full of drawings. 

Doyle made several attempts to return this artwork, but never managed to bring the artist together with it again. 

Basquiat seemed almost apathetic toward Doyle's efforts to return the lost drawings and simply shrugged when Doyle brought the subject up. 

The portfolio was left in various houses owned by Doyle over the years and was long forgotten until recently re-discovered during house cleaning at Doyle's daughter's house in Vermont. 

Basquiat Subway Case Art Collection
Kevin Doyle


BACKSTORY On June 5, 2018, as managing member for New Mexico-based Sinuessa Fine Art, LLC, David Damante executed a financial document titled “Agreement”, conveying a work of art referenced to as “Helicopter” to a San Francisco art dealer, Lumsden (Lu) Quan. 

According to the June 5 document, the conveyance of the painting was the resolution of a dispute between the two parties “regarding ownership of an unfinished work for art attributed to the late artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, that being, a mixed media work in paint, spray paint, and oil stick on wood panel, measuring 64” x 48”, known by the working titles of “Helicopter” and “Helicopter Cityscape”—Quan and Damante both claimed ownership of the single original artwork. 

John Re, convicted art fraudster
After receiving an email threat on July 5 from Quan's associate, Taryn Burns, I began investigating Quan, Burns and their shared past—and discovered a multi-million dollar art forgery scam, a man with ties to the former Colombian drug cartel and a mini-submarine.

My investigation further revealed evidence that strongly suggested three people who wrote character reference letters on Quan's behalf—Kevin Doyle, Taryn Burns and William Michael Force—played significant roles in the scam executed in California and Nevada by David Damante.

The letters, shown below, contain these choice whoppers about Lu Quan: “hard working and law-abiding” (Doyle), “possesses high moral character, with integrity and values” (Burns) and someone who “has continued to demonstrate his deep desire to assist and help me, and others, without consideration of his needs, believing his needs will always be supplied by the grace of God.” (Force) 

Hey, I was born at night...but not last night! 

(Scroll down for the complete story.)




FAKES, FORGERIES, FUGAZI 

“Piece offered here from portfolio of drawings left on subway car.” 

Using a version of the story art fraudster know as “the na├»ve seller strategy,” Massachusetts painter Kevin Doyle's found his niche—selling fake Basquiat postcards on eBay under the name 'gentleman_collector.'

The screen grab shown below was taken this morning, as you can see from the date/time stamp in the lower right hand corner.


Doyle's version of the story, taken from this eBay listing, goes like this:

“American author Kevin Doyle became friendly with artist Jean-Michel Basquiat in the early eighties when Doyle, then unpublished, sought attention from the New York literary world by sending Greenwich Village “street art” to agents and editors. 

Andy Warhol’s business manager and nightlife character Fred Hughes, who often socialized with Doyle, suggested Basquiat's postcards as highly-noticeable intro mailers for sending queries to the Paul R. Reynolds Literary Agency and others. 

As a result, Doyle developed a relationship with Reynolds' agent Sabina Iardella. Although the Agency never succeeded in placing Doyle's first manuscript, Ms. Iardella often traveled with Doyle to meet Basquiat in the Village. 

Doyle enjoyed the highly toned atmosphere that seemed to surround Basquiat at the time. Sometimes Doyle gave money to the artist to help him pay off drug debts and was remunerated with gifts of artwork. 

On one occasion Basquiat and Doyle rode the subway together, and the artist departed the train first leaving behind a large art case full of drawings. Doyle made several attempts to return this artwork, but never managed to bring the artist together with it again. 

Basquiat seemed almost apathetic toward Doyle's efforts to return the lost drawings and simply shrugged when Doyle brought the subject up. The portfolio was left in various houses owned by Doyle over the years and was long forgotten until recently re-discovered during house cleaning at Doyle's daughter's house in Vermont.” 

That's a helluva story.

And, with the exception of Doyle, everyone else mentioned is dead—Basquiat, Warhol, Hughes and Iardella.

Makes it tough to fact-check, right?

Maybe not: Al Diaz is alive and kicking, and spoke exclusively with me about Doyle.

Although Diaz is best known for his collaboration with Jean-Michel Basquiat on SAMO©, graffiti that appeared in lower Manhattan from 1977 to 1979,  his career spans five decades.

An influential, first generation NYC graffiti artist, who later became a text-oriented street artist, Diaz currently works with the WET PAINT & Service Change Alert signs used throughout the New York City subway system. 

His visual style uses cut out individual letters from multiple signs to create clever, surreal and sometimes poignant anagrams. The reworked signage is then posted back onto subway walls. 

Diaz rejected Doyle's claim of a portfolio full of Basquiat's artwork and their purported authenticity: “It is utter bullshit. If you think that any of that garbage even remotely looks like Basquiat, you need to study Basquiat more than superficially. Absolute garbage!”
Photo courtesy of Al Diaz
Yes, that's Al Diaz, posing with his own Kevin Doyle original...or should I say fugazi Basquiat?

SO DID KEVIN DOYLE FORGE “HELICOPTER” AND “CRACK APPLE NIGHT” 

In my opinion, it's possible.

Doyle's sold what he termed “Basquiat homage” paintings on eBay in the past, including this one.

It was described by Doyle as a rare opportunity to own a large original, oil painting executed in tribute to Greenwich Village street art by a member of the early eighties scene .


So is it SAMO...or FAKO?

Coming next, the twisted story of art lovers Taryn Burns and William Michael Force.