FBI Busts Disgraced Rising Austro Brazilian Artist For Forging Famous NYC Mentors Signature On Paintings

The FBI has busted a disgraced rising Austro-Brazilian artist found hiding in Portugal after forging his famous New York mentor’s signature on paintings that he then sold on to unsuspecting buyers.

Christian Rosa, 39, once considered a rising star in the art scene, especially in the US, was arrested in Vila Nova de Milfontes, a small coastal town in the Alentejo region in Portugal.

He is accused of having forged paintings and certificate signatures by famous artist and mental Raymond Pettibon between 2018 and 2020 in the USA before fleeing after being rumbled.

Christian Rosa, 39, artist was arrested in Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal, on charges of having forged pictures by the well-known artist Raymond Pettibon. (Newsflash)

According to Vanity Fair, the FBI rumbled his whereabouts after his wife shared a photograph on Instagram showing a bottle of water with the label “Milfontes” on it, which revealed the approximate location of the suspect.

After Artnet News first reported on the alleged forgeries in January 2021, the suspect is said to have written an email to a co-conspirator saying “the secret is out”, according to the website, before fleeing the US.

Art collectors had become suspicious of one of the supposed Pettibon paintings on the market as its bright blue waves had an unusual green tint and the signature appeared almost practiced, according to Artnet News.

Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal, where Christian Rosa, 39, was arrested in on charges of having forged pictures by the well-known artist Raymond Pettibon. (Google Maps/Newsflash)

The rumour was that the Austro-Brazilian artist had taken unfinished works from Pettibon’s studio before adding the finishing touches and the signature himself.

The US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams, said in a statement that the artist “swindled buyers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and risked a New York artist’s legacy, through his forgery scheme.”

Rosa has been indicted on charges of conspiracy, fraudulent misrepresentation and aggravated identity theft to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

Untitled (“Bail, or bail out . . .”), one of the paintings Christian Rosa, 39, forged and claimed they belonged to Raymond Pettibon. (U.S Department of Justice/Newsflash)

He faces 20 years in prison if convicted. An extradition date has yet to be set.