On Tuesday, The California Department of Justice announced they had charged Michael Barzman with making false statements about the provenance of paintings attributed to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat that were seized from the Orlando Museum of Art last year.


Barzman’s team also filed a plea agreement that included pleading guilty to the felony offense of art fraud and shared admissions of the fake paintings that included the name of the forger, known only as “J.F.” in court documents.

“J.F. spent a maximum of 30 minutes on each image and as little as five minutes on others, and then gave them to [Barzman] to sell on eBay. [Barzman] and J.F. agreed to split the money that they made from selling the Fraudulent Paintings. J.F. and [Barzman] created approximately 20-30 artworks by using various art materials to create colorful images on cardboard.”


The FBI seized the 25 paintings in June 2022, which we told you about HERE. At the time, the FBI had revealed in its warrant that it had questions about the veracity of the claims/narrative of where the collection had come from.

An early press release ahead of the Heroes & Monsters exhibit shared by the museum stated the following.

The crime of making false statements to a government agency carries a statutory maximum penalty of five years in federal prison and this case is still being investigated by the FBI’s Art Crime Team. According to an earlier report by Orlando Sentinel, former museum director Aaron De Groft is still under investigation.

Brendan O'Connor

Editor in Chief of

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