Renton man arrested for allegedly selling fake Chihuly artwork

A 35-year-old Renton man was arrested Thursday for trafficking in artwork attributed to famed glass artist Dale Chihuly, according to U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.

Michel Little was arrested following an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).  Little was to make an initial U.S. District Court appearance Thursday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, in 2011 and 2012 Little offered for sale or sold pieces of glass art and paintings that he represented were the work of Dale Chihuly, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.

Little marketed the works via eBay. The artworks bore a signature that appeared to be Chihuly’s and Little provided paperwork that he said authenticated the pieces as the work of Dale Chihuly, according to the press release.

However, an expert in Chihuly’s work examined the pieces at the request of the purchaser and determined they were fakes.  The papers that were supposed to authenticate the works were also allegedly forged, according to the press release.

Trafficking in counterfeit goods is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs.

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