Call this one the Thomas Cringe Affair. According to the Wall Street Journal, three men have been charged with allegedly selling counterfeit Damien Hirst art and stealing $400,000 from unsuspecting buyers.
For 52-year-old Vincent Lopreto, this was reportedly not the first time using the scam. According to the Journal, he pleaded guilty to identity theft and selling Hirst forgeries back in 2014, and had served time in state prison between 2014 and 2015.
In fact, according to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., Lopreto restarted his fake Hirst business just 15 days after being released from prison.
Lopreto was the master forger, using a “printer, stamp, and other tools” to create the Hirsts, while his two accomplices advertised and sold the art online. The trio not only faked the art, but also produced counterfeit purchase receipts and certificates of authenticity to sell the con.
The three made sales in the U.S., U.K., Italy, and South Africa, among other countries. Four of the sales were made to Manhattan residents, while two were completed with an undercover investigator.
One of the pieces faked by the trio was Hirst’s 2012 print, “Esculetin,” which is valued at about $14,000.
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