A federal judge has ordered a Guilford art dealer,arrested in April on charges he sold or tried to sell fake masterpieces, to stop displaying certain artwork in his Branford gallery, Hidden Treasures at 539 Main St., or online.
The order, issued Thursday against David Crespo, who formerly ran a gallery in Madison, is the result of renewed complaints by prosecutors that despite the pending felony charges against him Crespo has continued to try to sell what authorities believe is fake works of art.
After he was released on bond in the spring Crespo was warned “to not put himself in a position where he might be involved in the fraudulent sale of purported artwork,” and to “not violate any federal, state or local law while on release.”
Despite those orders, federal prosecutors said in court papers filed this past week, Crespo has continued to post on his gallery’s website that the business has “original works dating back centuries” by such artists as Monet and Rembrandt, the court filing states. Crespo, prosecutors add in the filing, also had on display in the gallery window recently “what appeared to be an original signed Chagall lithograph purportedly from the Daphnes and Chloe series.”
They requested this week that the federal court set limits on how and what Crespo sells at the gallery and online and how he markets them.
On Thursday, New Haven District Court Judge Joan G. Margolis complied, signing an order that limits Crespo to displaying for sale in his gallery only artwork by Connecticut artists and artwork that he takes in for sale on consignment. It also limits those sales to just eight per month.
“On or before August 24, 2012, defense counsel shall provide the (court) with a complete inventory of all artwork presently in Hidden Treasures for consignment, and further shall provide a revised inventory on or before the last business day of each month, commencing on September 28, 2012,” the order states. It goes on to say that “The only artwork that defendant may advertise on the website of Hidden Treasures is the artwork that the store has for resale by consignment and artwork by local Connecticut artists, which artwork is properly and accurately identified as such.”
Crespo has been free on $50,000 bond since his arrest in April. He formerly did business in Madison through a gallery called Brandon Gallery. Earlier this month a grand jury issued a 12-count indictment against him charging him with mail and wire fraud offenses.