A Finnish couple was jailed and ordered to pay €13 million ($14.7 million) after selling hundreds of known forgeries through their gallery. Ersatz forgeries at that. “[T]he treatment of the subject was incredibly weak and the painting style was childish,” the court said in its written judgement.
Kati Marjatta Karkkiainen, 46, and Reijo Pollari, 75, were sentenced to four and five years imprisonment, respectively, after being found guilty of 30 charges of aggravated fraud. Eight other individuals were sentenced to up to three years in jail each for their roles in the affair.
In a five-year scam, the couple conspired with self-taught artist Veli Seppa to sell paintings affixed with signatures from such European heavyweights as Henri Matisse
, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
, Claude Monet
, and Wassily Kandinsky
. More than 220 of the canvases that passed through the gallery were investigated by experts at Finland's National Gallery, the majority of which were found to be inauthentic. Investigators noted that, while most of the forgeries have been seized, some are believed to still be in circulation.