A 29-year-old owner of an estate sales company has pleaded guilty to selling fake Peter Max paintings, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut announced.
Between April 2020 and January 2022, Nicholas P. Hatch of Ridgefield, Connecticut used a variety of websites, including Estatesales.org, to sell 145 fraudulent artworks to 43 collectors for an estimated $248,600. He often used aliases to hide his identity from buyers and made counterfeit certificates of authenticity to accompany his products.
This week, Hatch waved his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
— U.S. Attorney CT (@USAO_CT) August 8, 2023
The investigation into Hatch began when a former employee of his company, Hatch Estate Services LLC, spotted some 100 Max paintings in a Bridgeport warehouse, according to the affidavit. The employee contacted authorities, saying that he had been told that Hatch purchased Max prints, then added paint and the artist’s signature to make them look like originals.
Hatch was arrested on May 9 of this year. He has been detained since July 14, after violating the conditions of pre-trial release, the U.S. Attorney’s office said. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for October 30.
Known for his vivid colors and psychedelic imagery, Max first made his name producing posters for concerts, happenings, and other countercultural events in the late 1960s and beyond. He appeared on the NBC Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1967 and the cover of LIFE Magazine in 1969. In the following years, Max’s trippy illustrations and paintings appeared on dozens of commercial products, including clocks, cups, and high-top shoes.
Max, now 85, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s-induced dementia and been placed under conservatorship. His children, meanwhile, are embroiled in multiple lawsuits over control of the artist’s company, ALP.
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