A Palm Beach Dealer Peddling Cheap Warhol and Basquiat Replicas for Millions Has Been Sentenced to Over Two Years in Prison

The dealer has started paying back victims of his scam.

Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service raided the gallery Danieli Fine Art on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo by Ty Cooperman.

After pleading guilty in February to money laundering for selling cheap reproductions of works purportedly by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Roy Lichtenstein at his Palm Beach, Florida, galleries, Daniel Elie Bouaziz has been ordered to serve 27 months in prison. The sentence will be followed by three years supervised release and a $15,000 fine.

Representing himself as an art expert, Bouaziz drew up false certificates of authenticity for low-cost prints and replicas he bought online, removed any language identifying the works as reproductions, and sealed each purchase with a stamped signature reading “Daniel Bouaziz, Certified International Fine Art Appraiser.”

The average transaction for the dealer was $114,000, but in one of the fraudulent deals, a couple spent nearly $500,000. Bouaziz also tried to sell an undercover FBI agent a “Basquiat” actually worth $495 for $12 million. The deal also would have included fake Banksy, Keith Haring, and Georgia O’Keeffe works, for a total of $22 million.

News of the sentencing from U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon was first reported by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Florida.

A fake Jean-Michel Basquiat sold by Daniel Elie Bouaziz for $12 million. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice.

A fake Jean-Michel Basquiat sold by Danieli Fine Art. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The 69-year-old dealer originally faced 17 counts of money laundering and wire fraud, and could have faced two decades behind bars. But federal prosecutors dropped all but one charge in the plea deal, and the sentencing guidelines ultimately recommended a range of 33 to 41 months of incarceration.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Schall asked the judge for a “reasonable” sentence considering Bouaziz’s age, poor health, lack of prior criminal history, professed remorse for his actions, and his willingness to repay his victims. The dealer has already returned $246,000 to defrauded customers, and has pledged to make his 11 victims whole in the next 45 days. His restitution hearing is scheduled for August 16.

Bouaziz had also submitted nearly 50 letters in support of his character, many of which spoke glowingly of his philanthropic efforts.

A gallery employee at Danieli Fine Art in Palm Beach shortly before the FBI raided the gallery. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

A gallery employee at Danieli Fine Art in Palm Beach shortly before the FBI raided the gallery. Photo by Sarah Cascone.

“While Bouaziz may been generous to some, as countless people claim in their letters of support to this Court, he was defrauding others,” Schall countered in her sentencing recommendation. “Bouaziz won people over with his philanthropy, high-end vehicles, ties to the local synagogue, invitations to lunch, history as an opera singer, art events, and more.”

The dealer’s attorney, Howard Schumacher, painted a different picture, calling Bouaziz “that rare person who puts others before themselves, and more poignantly colors the world around them with hope,” as reported by the Palm Beach Post.

A French and Israeli citizen, he will likely be deported after completing his jail time.

Bouaziz’s scam came crashing down in December 2021, when the FBI and the IRS raided Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli, his two storefronts on Palm Beach’s tony Worth Avenue. Authorities arrested him last May.

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