“The beauty of art may be in the eye of the beholder, but the behavior we assert today is objectively ugly. ”
Christian Rosa, darling of the art of Hip, has been indicted for counterfeiting and sale of the “Wave” series by Raymond Pettibon.
According to the District Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Rosa stole at least four unfinished works from Pettibon’s studio, worked them through to completion, and then sold the counterfeits with certificates of authenticity through an intermediary reseller.
Regarding the case, FBI Deputy Director Michael J. Driscoll said, “The beauty of art may be in the eye of the beholder, but the behavior we allege today is objectively ugly.
A boost of truth from the feds.
Rosa, 43, (real name Christian Weinberger, less charming), was educated in Vienna and dazzled the art scenes of LA and NY with her paintings, formalist zombie style. (Roll your eyes here.) Jay-Z and Leo DiCaprio both own his works.
Until last year, Rosa usually hit over a hundred thousand dollars, but recently the value of an original has dropped to thirty, highs. Rosa perhaps thought that forging the wave paintings would be easy money to maintain the lifestyle he had become accustomed to.
Everyone loves surfing.
Counterfeits were sold for over six figures each.
Enough for a down payment on a wide riverside spread.
Pettibon, who was made famous in the 1980s thanks to his cover art for the punk band Black Flag, was a friend and mentor of Rosa, painting her portraits, sharing gallery space, and playing dog races.
His wave paintings, started in 1985, typically sell for around 1.2 mil. They are known for their simplicity, making the familiar strange, as they say.
While Pettibon’s works are renowned for their simplicity, which is little more than elaborate scribbles on school notebooks, the style makes a Pettibon wave easy to recognize.
New York art collector Michael Hort, who owns both Pettibon and Rosa works, says it’s no surprise that Pettibon’s wave paintings were counterfeit.
“Pettibon is easy to take down. They are easy to reproduce. They aren’t that complicated even if you keep going back and finding new things to watch.
Experts have certainly found things to examine. It wasn’t long before examiners detected irregularities in the rooms. Artnet described the counterfeit paintings as having “seemingly odd yellow-greens mixed with Pettibon’s normal cobalt blue,” poor text placement, and overly cautious signature.
Basically Rosa was sloppy, the mortal sin of the criminal.
According to the official indictment:
From around 2017 to 2020, WEINBERGER, along with other known and unknown people, engaged in a scheme to defraud potential art buyers by selling counterfeit Pettibon paintings. Pettibon is a leading contemporary artist based primarily in New York, New York, who has produced a series of paintings depicting ocean waves with surfers accompanied by handwritten text (the “Wave Series”). WEINBERGER is a contemporary visual artist based primarily in Los Angeles, California and Vienna, Austria. As part of the fraud scheme, in or around 2018 and 2020, WEINBERGER sold the following works of art, which WEINBERGER falsely presented as genuine Pettibon “Wave Series” paintings, to two buyers (“Buyer-1” and “Buyer-2”):
Untitled (“It was the moment …”), 2013, 100 cm by 155 cm:
Untitled (“Drop in..”), 2011, 80 cm by 60 cm:
Untitled (“Bail, or bail out..”), 2012, 115 cm by 163 cm:
Untitled (“If there is a line..”), 2016, 118.1 by 208.3 cm:
Rosa fled to Portugal in February, but has now been returned to the United States pending trial.
He could face up to 20 years in the bullpen if found guilty.