Forgery case: Two booked for selling fake Bawa, Souza worth ₹18 cr | Mumbai News

Mumbai: A case of forgery has been registered against an art dealer and another man for allegedly duping an investment banker of Rs 17.9 crore by selling him fake paintings, claiming they were the works of renowned artists such as Manjit Bawa and Francis Newton Souza.
Tardeo police registered a case against Vishwang Desai, a lawyer, and art dealer Rajesh Rajpal under Indian Penal Code sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 420 (cheating) and 467, 468 and 471 (offences related to forgery) on Monday.No arrest has been made, an official said.
The complaint filed by banker Punit Bhatia stated he met Desai at a party last year, the official said. Desai allegedly told him he was an art connoisseur and could help him get paintings of prominent artists at reasonable prices. He put Bhatia in touch with Rajpal, the complaint said. In January 2022, Desai allegedly offered to get two paintings for him. One of them, titled ‘Krishna with Cows’, was a work by Manjit Bawa, and its current owner, Bhopal-based IAS officer Subrata Banerjee, was ready to sell it for Rs 6.75 crore, he allegedly told Bhatia. A painting by Francis Newton Souza was also available for Rs 1.75 crore, Desai informed him.
He bought nine more paintings, paying a total of Rs 17.9 crore, he told cops. But some of Bhatia’s friends told him the two paintings were not the works of Bawa and Souza. When he contacted Banerjee, he denied having sold any such paintings.PTI

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