As money launderers buy lentils, US considers lifting veil on art sales


Mr. Isain provided his perspective on art market transactions.

“It’s different from selling a car,” he said, “because the car has to be registered, the title, and this and that and everything. … These are nothing. … They could have been, it was yours. Could have belonged to grandmothers. You follow me?”

“So I can say, ‘Hey, this is stuff I inherited that I didn’t buy,'” Lisa asked.

“Correct. ‘I found it at a thrift store, they were $10 a piece,'” replied Mr. Isen.

Mr Isain was not charged with wrongdoing in Belciano’s case and has denied knowing that Mr Belciano was using art to launder money, but as a result of his conversation with Lisa, who was a Was an undercover agent wearing the wire, he would later be charged and convicted of money laundering in 2015. He was sentenced to 320 hours of community service and received a fine of $15,000.

A week after their first conversation, Lisa returned to Mr. Eisen’s gallery to buy 12 Salvador Dalí lithographs for $20,000. He had cash in a brown paper bag. It smelled of drugs, he told the gallerist, as he kept it with his marijuana disguise.

According to court papers, he told her that he was not getting the challan for his purchase.

“No invoice? Cool,” he replied. “No receipt, no invoice, I’m good with that. That’s how I like to do business.”

“We’ve never seen you before,” said Mr. Isain.


Zachary Smalls contributed reporting. Alain Delaqueriere contributed to the research.



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