LOS ANGELES (CN) – An internationally known antiques expert and the owners of a Los Angeles art gallery ran a tax scam, selling inflated appraisals to collectors who donated antiques, to increase the donors’ charitable tax deductions, federal prosecutors say.
Prosecutors say Jonathan Markell, co-owner of Silk Roads Gallery in Los Angeles, forged an appraisal document that purportedly was written by antique expert Roxanna Brown. Markell told an undercover agent that he would charge $1,500 to appraise a collection of Thai antiques at $4,900, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. The agent allegedly had just bought the collection from Markell and his wife, Cari Markell, for $1,500 in cash.
Markell allegedly had permission from antiques expert Roxana Brown to use her electronic signature on the falsified appraisal forms. Investigators say it was not the first time Markell used Brown’s signature.
A Los Angeles federal grand jury indicted Brown on wire fraud charges. Prosecutors say the indictment comes from a continuing investigation into the trafficking of Southeast Asian antiques into Southern California. If convicted, Brown could face up to 20 years in prison.