St. Charles man pleads guilty to tyring to sell fake Rembrandt

Friday, October 14, 2005

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A man who posed as a member of the Saudi royal family in an effort to sell a fake Rembrandt painting for $2.8 million has pleaded guilty to mail fraud.

Majed A. Ihmoud, 52, of St. Charles, tried to sell a reproduction of "Man with the Golden Helmet" last year in a transaction witnessed by undercover FBI agents.

Ihmoud, who is to be sentenced Jan. 3, admitted with his plea Thursday that he used his Deals-R-Us business to conspire with others to sell fakes. No one else was named in the case with him. Ihmoud's lawyer, Larry Hale, declined to comment.

Ihmoud also admitted he sold a set of brass doors with the claim that they formerly belonged to the home of professional boxer Mohammad Ali. He mailed fake documents, intended to support the claim that the doors belonged to Ali, to Philadelphia.

He sold the doors for $130,000 on July 9, 2004, knowing they were in fact worth only about $10,000, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Friday. The buyer made an initial payment of $1,500.

He and others mailed unused, aged canvas from Philadelphia to St. Louis last year to try and create a forgery, according to court documents. The mailing included photos of works by Vincent Van Gogh and other artists, according to the charges.

Sometime after June 29, 2004, Ihmoud got a copy print of "Man with the Golden Helmet."

"Man with the Golden Helmet," painted around 1650, hangs in a Berlin museum. It was celebrated for centuries as one of the Dutch master's masterpieces, but art experts concluded in 1986 that it actually had been painted by an unknown artist in Rembrandt's company.

On Aug. 12, 2004, Ihmoud went to the Adams Mark Hotel in St. Louis. He posed as a sheik and a member of the Saudi royal family. He then proceeded to sell the copy claiming it was an original by Rembrandt, but the FBI used undercover agents to monitor the transaction.

Ihmoud later expressed remorse for his actions, according to the plea agreement he signed with prosecutors.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

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