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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 March, 2004, 16:35 GMT
US dealer charged over 'fake' art
Paintings were sold to international dealers, said prosecutors
A New York gallery owner has been charged with selling fakes of famous paintings for millions of dollars.

Prosecutors said Ely Sakhai, 52, bought authentic works by masters including Monet and Renoir, had forgeries made, then sold the copies and the originals.

One fake Chagall painting was sold for about $514,000 (285,500). The original was auctioned five years later for $340,000 (188,000), say the charges.

Prosecutors said Sakhai was bailed on Tuesday - his lawyer would not comment.

Sakhai was named in an eight-count fraud complaint at a Manhattan federal court - each charge carries a possible maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of $2m (1.1m).

Prosecutors say he sold the forgeries to art dealers in Tokyo, Paris, New York and Taipei.

Another replica, a copy of Renoir's Jeune Femme S'Essuyant, was sold to a Tokyo dealer for $50,480 (28,000) in 1994. Sakhai bought the original at Sotheby's in 1988 for about $35,000 (19,400) say prosecutors.

He later sold the authentic painting to Sotheby's in 2000, where it sold for about $65,000 (36,000).

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