In his first television interview, the elderly artist whose look-alike paintings in the styles of Abstract Expressionists including Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock fooled experts and sent shock waves through the art world claims he was ”shocked” to learn that his works were sold as newly discovered masterpieces to wealthy collectors for tens of millions of dollars.
“When I made these paintings, I had no idea they would represent them as the real thing to sell,” said Pei Shen Qian in an interview to be broadcast Tuesday on “World News With Diane Sawyer” and “Nightline” as part of an ABC News investigation of the fake art industry and the Long Island fraud ring that flooded the market with over $80 million in forged work.
Now under federal indictment in New York on charges of fraud, Qian has moved from his studio in the New York borough of Queens to a small apartment on the outskirts of Shanghai where ABC News found him.
“My intent wasn’t for my fake paintings to be sold as the real thing,” Qian said. “They were just copies to put up in your home if you like it.”
But according to the federal grand jury indictment, Qian created some 63 look-alike versions of the abstract work of Rothko and Pollock and others and lied to FBI agents about his role in the fraud.