MIAMI – In December of 2021, FBI and IRS agents pulled up to an art gallery on pricey Worth Avenue, went inside, packed up some artwork, then covered the windows of the gallery, and surrounded it with yellow crime scene tape.
On Friday, Palm Beach art dealer Daniel Elie Bouaziz made his first appearance before a federal judge in Miami. He faces multiple charges from what investigators concluded was an art fraud scheme he carried out through sales at his Worth Avenue galleries, Danieli Fine Art and Galerie Danieli.
Investigators say Bouaziz would purchase low-cost reproductions from online auction sites and market the works as original or authentic pieces by prominent artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Banksy, and Roy Lichtenstein, among others. One of the works retrieved was a fake Basquiat painting for sale at Danieli Fine Art for $12 million.
He would deceive buyers by adding a signature to a piece to make it appear authentic and would drastically mark up the prices and sell the works to victims as originals, according to the investigation.
Bouaziz is facing charges of mail fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering.
The Palm Beach Daily News reported last December that in 2017 Bouaziz told them he was a seasonal resident of Palm Beach and a semi-retired French-Israeli opera singer who performed under the name Danieli.
FBI Miami’s West Palm Beach Office and IRS-CI Miami were the investigators. The FBI is saying that there may be other victims and anyone with information can call FBI’s Art Crime Team at 1-800-CALL-FBI.