On January 12, 2012, Richard Silver of Manhattan, admitted to buying online a set of prints depicting … dots, for about $40,000. He resold them for $84,000 to other collectors in the United States, Canada, and Britain. How did he do that? Well, he had the works appraised and made a few changes to the documents. Silver did not know they were not by Damien Hirst, but he thought they were, or ought to have been by Hirst. After all, who else would ever paint dots?!
Silver is an amateur dealer, a licensed real-estate broker who collects art as a hobby. New York City authorities were alerted to his antics when one of the ultimate purchasers in London had the works appraised and discovered they were not from the Hirst’s studio.
Silver alleged he did not know the prints were fake but he did admit to altered the appraisal documents. He pleaded guilty to misdemeanor forgery and false-filing charges.
To dot all the I’s, he also admitted to failing to report his profits on his state taxes.
As for Hirst, about a quarter of his signature dotted canvases, or 331 to be exact, are currently on display at Gagosian galleries around the world.