Attendees of a sold out Nov. 14 presentation in Niagara University’s Castellani Art Museum heard FBI Special Agent Christopher McKeogh reflect on some of the most prominent art thefts that he’s examined.
McKeogh touched upon highlights of his 14 years as an FBI special agent, offering case studies and insight into how the agency investigates and prosecutes perpetrators of art crime.
Since he began examining art crime matters from the FBI’s New York Office, McKeogh noted that the complexity of the cases he’s been assigned to have ranged from arresting a man selling fake Jackson Pollock paintings with the artist’s name misspelled to tracking down Michigan-based art dealer Eric Spoutz, who sold at least 40 fake paintings under several aliases before being collared in 2016.
McKeogh warned attendees about purchasing prominent artworks from online auction sites like eBay. He also advised anyone wary of buying fake items to consider forgoing expensive forensic testing on the piece for thorough investigation of the work’s provenance, documentation that often accompanies major artworks to confirm its authenticity.
“The proof is usually in the documents,” said McKeogh, a former university science professor who holds two master’s degrees in physics.
The event was part of the museum’s Meet Me at the CAM series of lectures and films on topics related to art and art history. It was sponsored by the Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University’s Office of Continuing Education, the university’s criminal justice student association, and the FBI’s Buffalo Field Office.