Britto Screwed Dealers by Not Warning Them About Forgeries, Lawsuit Claims

Categories: News
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Say what you will about Miami's king of brightly hued beach balls and cartoonish faces: Romero Britto's art is popular and pricey enough to spark a network of forgers. The artist launched his own federal suit against a group of fraudsters in 2010. But at least one of the dealers who bought and resold those fakes says he hasn't found justice yet. A Minneapolis gallery is striking back, and targeting Britto himself, whom the gallery says should have done more to warn buyers about the fakes.

"Britto was negligent," says Michael Lowden, the lawyer representing Ryan Mack, owner of Griffin Galleries. "That's the heart of the case."

See also:
- For Romero Britto, luck and charm trump talent


A Britto spokeswoman calls the suit "preposterous" and says Britto was a victim too. "We sympathize with Mr. Mack's frustration... [but] the answer is not to file a baseless lawsuit against innocent victims," Jessica De Velasco says.

Here's the backstory: In June 2009, Mack began buying Brittos from a husband-and-wife team of dealers in Coral Gables named Les Roberts and Silvia Castro. Mack says he bought more than 40 Brittos and resold dozens.

But in December that year, his biggest client called with disturbing news: He'd learned all the Brittos he'd bought through Mack were fake.

What's worse, Mack says he ended up in a maze of confusion when trying to resolve the complaint with Britto. Roberts muddied the water with fake emails and bogus authentication certificates, he says, but Britto also refused to clear things up.

Only in February 2010 -- when Britto filed his own suit against Roberts and Castro -- did Mack learn that Britto also believed the Gables dealer was selling phony pieces. That suit made it clear that Britto had a "relationship" with Roberts and Castro, Mack's suit says, and that the artist "knew or should have known of the fraudulent scheme."

Roberts, for his part, disputes nearly that whole story. While he acknowledges selling some fake Brittos to Mack, he says the number was well under 40 pieces. What's more, he says he paid back the gallery as soon as he learned the pieces were fake by giving Mack other artwork of the same value. Roberts later settled out of court with Britto, closed his gallery, and entered bankruptcy protection.

"He got a 100 percent refund," Roberts tells Riptide. "I don't want to see this guy take advantage of Britto. He's after his money completely."

But Lowden says Griffin is still stuck with more than 40 fake Brittos, is out upward of $500,000 and just wants his fair compensation.

"He's not selling the fakes, obviously," Lowden says, "and he's still got to deal with the customers who bought these works."

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18 comments
kevin824
kevin824

This is what you get when you involve yourself with trash. This man's "artwork" will never have any context in art history. You'll never find it mentioned in any literature that is a requisite for advanced collegiate level learning. It means nothing, it is nothing, and what goes around comes around. Step away from the force-feeding, gain some sophistication, and try your hand at real modern and contemporary art.

internetinternet
internetinternet

I know a few companies in China that reproduce art.  Some artists use these companies to mass produce artwork.  Some might call them fakes others might call them commissioned copies.  Nothing is what it seems in art.  Buyer beware. 

Donovan Brin
Donovan Brin

Anyone who'd buy his crap (real or not) deserves it. Either way, it's a ripoff. He's not an artist

Derrick Christopher Mustelier
Derrick Christopher Mustelier

Any idiot with Photoshop could do what Britto does. These "fakes" should be worth just as much as his crap, which is to say: very little.

GodBlesstheHaters
GodBlesstheHaters

same old story as ever. ppl just hatin on ROMERO who is the man! y'all just jealous... same reason you keep watching the kardashians! you haters aren't famous artists LOL LOL

Marlon Ietter
Marlon Ietter

I remember when he first got popular, looked like Robin Morris's art with A.D.D. coloring

juststeve
juststeve

Britto is the most overrated talentless wannabe artist of the last 20 years. I've seen paintings by kids and blind people that are 1000 times better than his cartoonish shit that all looks alike. He made his fortune on the backs of the uber rich society people that greased his way. I wouldn't pay $100 for the shit he charges $10,000 for. Pure amateur rubbish.

Armando Hernandez
Armando Hernandez

He does not even do his own paintings anymore...He has other artist who do it and he slaps his name on them..

Raul Diego
Raul Diego

I thought all Brittos were fakes.

Jonathan Berney
Jonathan Berney

hahaha anybody who pays thousands for that nonsense is getting screwed if you ask me

Stephen Scott
Stephen Scott

No "artist" ever made more money on less talent than "Britto". Not a fan of his "art".

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

@GodBlesstheHaters As many pieces as the dealer had that were fakes, somebody must've been able to pump that Britto crap out like Chinese low end baseball cards that aren't worth the bubble gum inside them ?

james504
james504

@juststeve lol im sure he is not losing sleep at night knowing internet commentator juststeve doesnt validate his talent. The guy is making considerable more money than you, why show envy? be happy he is making money with seemingly no talent according to you. 

jgcamp99
jgcamp99

@juststeve $ 100 ? I'm sure you can find as good at WalMart or at Ross/Marshalls for far less ? Britto would have to be dead like anyone else for his art to really be worth anything ? When are they bringing the pink snails back out again this year ?

juststeve
juststeve

@James504, you obviously didn't read and/or comprehend my post. What I wrote is MY fucking opinion - NO envy at all. What the fuck was your point anyway? You probably bought one of Brittos worthless pieces and have buyers remorse. Name one art museum that has bought any of his crap. Let me ease your anxiety - none, that's how many. Money does not by respect or talent. 

Jimbo99
Jimbo99

@juststeveFrom prior stories, a Britto painting isn't even really a Britto painting. From what I read, he pays others to actually paint the canvas markups he does ? If true, in that regard, a Britto painting is somewhat of a fraud. The article I read it makes his operation sound like a domestic spinoff of a Communist Chinese sweatshop ? Britto draws out the picture and then art students or whomever actually do the painting. I mean if I was to buy a $ 10K Britto, I'd want him to paint it in front of my very own eyes. The pattern sounded like a paint by numbers kit that you get at an art/hobby store ?

Then again I wouldn't pay $ 10K for a painting, I'd probably prefer a nicely framed photograph from a highest end digital camera, because pictures cycle in and out of my living spaces/galleries. That's just me, but his clients are wealthier folks anyways and they can drop that kind of money on a lot of things. Arnold Schwarzenegger was noted as a customer. I recall he bought a certain brand of watch that was based out of Miami, FL for that kind of money just the same. I forget the name of that brand, even if they're still in the watch game. They were located just north of downtown Miami on US 1. But my point is they were hideous watches by my tastes and he was dropping Rolex money on a watch that really wasn't in the game for the long run.

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