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Guilty Plea From Sub-Owning Art Fraudster

MANHATTAN (CN) - Now that his $2.5 million modern-art fraud has sunk, a Long Island man's submarine is not going to keep him afloat.

From 2005 until he was busted this year, John Re, 54, of East Hampton, made millions by fooling art collectors into buying phony works by Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and other artists.

Prosecutors said he used those ill-gotten gains to buy a submarine, the "U.S.S. Deep Quest."

The FBI went after Re after a collector sued him and others for selling bogus Pollocks earlier this year.

Re pleaded guilty on Monday, admitting that he faked the provenance for "dozens of paintings, sketches, and pastels."

"Respected appraisers and experts in the field of forensic analysis" debunked his claims multiple times, prosecutors said.

In at least one of these instances, Re allegedly mentioned supposed mob ties to squelch possible exposure.

Re faces up to 20 years in prison and must pay $2.5 million in forfeiture. None of that amount can be funded through the sale of the submarine, which is currently subject to a restraining order.

He will be sentenced on April 10, 2015.

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