Antiquities Dealer Admits Mass-Producing Fakes He Sold for Years

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For many years shoppers interested in all way of rarities — historical coins, sarcophagus masks, prehistoric fossils — went to Mehrdad Sadigh’s gallery near the Empire Condition Building in Manhattan. The merchandise came with certificates of authenticity, and the gallery’s web site was filled with accolades from clients who appreciated the gracious touch he introduced to his small business.

“Everything I have acquired from you more than the many years has more than exceeded my expectations,” one particular testimonial examine.

But Mr. Sadigh acknowledged Tuesday during a hearing that much about his antiquities organization was an elaborate scam.

“Over the program of a few many years I have marketed hundreds of fraudulent antiquities to innumerable unsuspecting collectors,” he reported, according to the assertion he study in Point out Supreme Court in Manhattan, incorporating, “I can only say that I was pushed by money greed.”

Quite a few of the objects he was offering were being not hundreds of years-outdated artifacts unearthed abroad and imported to New York, investigators had mentioned, but have been, somewhat, phony specimens, mass-manufactured in a warren of workplaces just powering his showroom.

Mr. Sadigh pleaded responsible to 7 felony counts that included costs of forgery and grand larceny. In a sentencing memorandum submitted with the court docket the district attorney’s office asked that Mr. Sadigh, who has no earlier history of arrests, be sentenced to five years’ probation and banned from at any time all over again being concerned in the sale of antiquities, “both real and fake.”

In describing his scheme in courtroom, Mr. Sadigh claimed that to conceal his deceptions he had employed a company to flag, take out and bury Google research benefits and on-line opinions that recommended that some of what he experienced bought may well be inauthentic.

Mr. Sadigh also admitted to getting other people to write-up glowing, but wrong, reviews of his gallery, inventing dozens of appreciative buyers.

Immediately after Mr. Sadigh was arrested in August, prosecutors claimed he appeared to be between the most significant purveyors of fake artifacts in the region, based mostly on his “substantial economic gains” and the longevity of his enterprise.

Established in 1978 as a compact mail-buy corporation, a website for Mr. Sadigh’s gallery explained, the gallery moved in 1982 to an higher ground of a making at Fifth Avenue and East 31st Avenue. From that spot, Mr. Sadigh supplied for sale items that he claimed have been historic Anatolian, Babylonian, Byzantine, Greco-Roman, Mesopotamian and Sumerian.

Prosecutors claimed that undercover federal investigators acquired a gold pendant depicting the demise mask of Tutankhamen and a marble portrait head of an historic Roman lady — paying $4,000 for every — from Mr. Sadigh’s gallery.

These gross sales became the basis for a take a look at to the gallery by associates of the district attorney’s place of work and Office of Homeland Security investigations. Officers mentioned they uncovered hundreds of pretend artifacts on exhibit and hundreds far more in back again rooms in differing phases of planning.

Matthew Bogdanos, the chief of the district attorney’s Antiquities Trafficking Device, reported in August that Mr. Sadigh had been working with a type of assembly-line system, involving varnish, spray paints and a belt sander, that appeared intended to alter up to date mass-created goods so they would seem aged.

In court docket on Tuesday Mr. Sadigh acknowledged that the objects he bought “had an antique patina as a result of paint, chemical procedures, and the addition of filth to their surfaces” mainly because that created them seem as if they had been historical treasures lately excavated from archaeological internet sites.

The prosecution of Mr. Sadigh was anything of a departure by the Antiquities Trafficking Unit, which normally pursues folks dealing in artifacts that have been looted from sites like Afghanistan and Egypt.

Mr. Sadigh arrived to the notice of investigators, Mr. Bogdanos has reported, when sellers getting pursued for trafficking plundered antiquities complained about “the man providing all the fakes.”