A 35-year-old Renton man pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to scheming to advertise and sell fake artwork by Dale Chihuly through the Internet, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Michael Little admitted he committed wire fraud by buying generic glasswork and artwork over the Internet and falsely claiming to buyers that it was authentic Chihuly work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Little made at least $40,000 selling the fakes.
He was arrested in April.
According to the criminal complaint, Little sold various pieces of art that he represented were the work of Chihuly via eBay in 2011 and 2012. The artwork bore a signature that appeared to be that of Chihuly, and Little provided paperwork that he said authenticated the pieces as the work of the artist, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
However, an expert in Chihuly’s work examined the pieces at the request of a purchaser and determined they were fakes. The papers that were supposed to authenticate the works were also forged, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
Little will be sentenced on Oct. 4. Wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.