The Sands Point art dealer who pulled off an $80 million fraud peddling forged paintings by Modernist masters like Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko received no jail time Tuesday after claiming that she was coerced by an abusive boyfriend.
Glafira Rosales, 60, faced up to 99 years in prison for an art scam that brought down Manhattan’s prestigious Knoedler Gallery, but U.S. District Judge Katherine Failla said she was driven by abuse and threats by partner Jose Carlos Bergantinos Diaz against their daughter.
“Your concern for her would motivate you to do exactly what you did,” the judge said to Rosales, who sobbed throughout the sentencing. “I do believe you did a lot of what you did because of your concern that your daughter could be harmed or taken away.”
The judge, who did impose 9 months’ home confinement, acted after an emotional statement from Rosales, barely audible as she expressed deep remorse through a heavy Mexican accent and tears and sniffles.
“I am ashamed of the crimes I have committed,” she said in a Manhattan federal courtroom. “ . . . I have been abused, tortured, but none of that excuses what I have done. I am truly, truly sorry.”
Rosales pleaded guilty in 2013 to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges for the plot in which she and Diaz, in cahoots with a skilled forger for more than 15 years, peddled 60 fake works of art by Modernist masters, taking in Knoedler and buyers with a Byzantine tale about the provenance of the art.
After spending 3 months in jail, she began cooperating with investigators, the government said, despite facing death threats from the boyfriend. Diaz and another co-conspirator have not been extradited from Spain and the artist is a fugitive in China, but prosecutors urged the judge to give her credit for her help.
During the sentencing, Rosales’ lawyer Bryan Skarlatos described Diaz as a “very bad man” who, over the course of a relationship beginning in 1980, had a daughter with Rosales but also kept her in line with psychological and physical abuse that included hitting her, choking her, pushing her down and hitting their daughter, Isolina.
After the judge asked why Rosales never broke away during long periods when Diaz was absent, Skarlatos said on one occasion when she protested the scam, he stuffed a picture of a forgery in her mouth and said he’d turn her in and flee to Spain with their daughter.
“It’s a complicated dominant and subservient relationship that arises in an abusive relationship like this,” he said.
Rosales agreed to forfeit $33.2 million including her Sands Point home when she pleaded guilty. Skarlatos said she is now penniless except for a modest IRA, working as a busgirl at a Long Island restaurant and staying in a room at a friend’s house.
“The rest of her life,” he said, “is dire.”