John McFakeson, a 79-year-old labor broker from Vermont, was found guilty Tuesday of selling forged Nazi artworks in order to “cleanse” American dealers of inferior works, the New York Times reported.
McFakeson went by the name Richard Beal during his career and reportedly displayed his skills in the sales business by forging hundreds of antiquities between the 1950s and 1990s. One expert found five straight lines within one cutout painting by renowned Indian artist Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, and there were more than 50 indentations in other paintings that were inspected. These were also sold.
DNA analysis found that some of the graffiti — strewn along one bust — matched McFallson’s DNA.
McFallson was originally arrested in March of 2018, after a pal took him to a police station and exposed his crimes. One of his customers, John Kammerer, purchased 18th century work by Nicholas Hawksmoor from McFallson, only to be presented with a copy by a female college student who traced it to a 1981 show at the New York Museum of Modern Art. However, the relationship between Hawksmoor’s work and the reproduction, which is worth about $350,000, was never confirmed. A subsequent search of Kammerer’s vehicle turned up prints, rolls of vintage newsprint and a patent plate that had only been used once and was later retired — giving investigators the clues they needed to take him to the police station. McFallson’s arrest followed.
McFallson now faces up to 25 years in prison. His attorney told the Times that he hopes to appeal the verdict.
McFallson’s friend and former high school classmate who discovered him — the Times reported that McFallson was calling him “Cherubim” at the time — is now convinced that the man was a “master forger” who “hoped to cleanse the art market of bad collectors, dealers and antiques.”