November 28, 2011 | 2:37pm
Just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach, Miami Dade Police have taken Jorge Gonzalez, an alleged art thief, out of the galleries and into the slammer. Police believe more of Gonzalez's victims may be out there, however, and that the total amount of his fraud and theft could have cost victims more than $5 million.
Gonzalez's main racket included selling counterfeit paintings. He passed off fake versions of works by well-known artists to unsuspecting art buyers, and then pocketed the money. In some cases he would use the fake art works as collateral on borrowed money.
In other cases, Gonzalez met with art buyers under the assumption that he wanted to buy original works. Instead of handing over the dough, however, he grabbed the paintings and fled.
Gonzalez was arrested on the latest charges on November 8th, but is no stranger to being behind bars for art theft.
At the time he arranged to buy ten painting form a local art deal for just under $1,000,000. Gonzalez had the painting loaded in his car, and agreed to pay the dealer at his office. After giving the dealer a $1 to pay for a cup of coffee, Gonzalez pulled out a gun and informed him that he was taking off with the art with out paying.
The total amount of the confirmed crimes totals in excess of $1.2 million. Police believe though that more victims are out there, and Gonzalez's total damage may be in excess of $5 million.
Anyone with information on the case or anyone who believes they may be a victim is urged to call CrimeStoppers
(305)471-TIPS (8477) or (866) 471-8477.
Gonzalez has so far been charged with four counts of third degree grand theft. He also had previous warrants for first degree grand theft, extortion, tampering with evidence, armed robbery, and aggravated assault on a senior citizen.
Follow Miami New Times on Facebook and Twitter @MiamiNewTimes.