Two Michigan men charged with plot to create, sell false works of art and memorabilia

The alleged plan began in 2005 and went on until 2020.
Lady Justice holds the scales of justice, symbolizing fairness in the judicial process.
Lady Justice holds the scales of justice, symbolizing fairness in the judicial process.(Pixabay)
Published: Apr. 25, 2022 at 10:26 AM EDT
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CHICAGO (WILX) - Three men, including two brothers from Michigan, have been indicted on federal fraud charges for purportedly planning to sell false works of art and memorabilia.

In an indictment unsealed in the US District Court of Chicago, Donald Henkel of Cedar is accused of altering and applying false autographs and signatures to memorabilia and paintings in an effort to make them appear genuine and thus more valuable to potential buyers.

The items included sports, music, and Hollywood collectibles. The potential buyers included art galleries, auction houses, and individual collectors.

Signatures of artists George Ault and Ralston Crawford were allegedly added to works that Henkel, 61, knew were not created by the two. He then allegedly schemed with his brother, 66-year-old Mark Henkel of Ann Arbor, and others to claim the works as genuine.

The alleged plan began in 2005 and went on until 2020. The indictment states a number of the items were sold for over $100,000 based on the false histories provided by the Henkels.

The two brothers also worked alongside Raymond Paparella, 59, of Boca Raton, Fla.

The indictment charges all three with mail or wire fraud, while Mark Henkel faces an added charge of witness tampering after he allegedly corruptly persuaded a co-schemer to make a false statement to law enforcement.

The three defendants pleaded not guilty during arraignments in federal court in Chicago last week.

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