A fake Damien Hirst print found by authorities in the residence of known art counterfeiter Vincent Lopreto. Photo: Manhattan District Attorney’s Office

Art Forgers Accused of Selling Fake Damien Hirst Prints Arrested

Fifty-two-year-old Vincent Lopreto, a known art counterfeiter, was arrested last week for trying to sell $400,000 worth of forged Damien Hirst prints to collectors in Manhattan and abroad, Luis Ferré-Sadurní of the New York Times reports.

Assistant district attorney Jaime Hickey-Mendoza said that Lopreto was detained in New Orleans on Wednesday, June 14, after police discovered four counterfeit works and a printer, which he may have used to create the reproductions, in his residence. The following day Lopreto agreed to voluntarily return to New York without an extradition hearing. At an arraignment in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, on Monday, he pleaded not guilty to five counts of grand larceny, two counts of attempted grand larceny, and four counts of scheme to defraud.

According to the prosecutor, Lopreto and two accomplices, Marco Saverino and Paul Motta of Arizona, allegedly attempted to sell fake works to an undercover investigator and four Manhattan buyers between October 2015 and February 2017. Saverino and Motta also face grand larceny and scheme to defraud charges. The swindlers created phony prints from the British artist’s “Valium” series and “Mickey” series, which they sold for around $3,000 and $14,000 respectively.

Lopreto previously served five years in a California prison for art fraud and was convicted again in 2014 for selling $1.5 million worth of fake works to auction houses as well as on eBay in 2014. Following the second conviction, he received a reduced sentence for informing the police about another con man, pastor Kevin Sutherland, who was also involved in the Damien Hirst counterfeit scheme.