Union Square art dealer unknowingly hawked fakes

A federal court jury has acquitted a Union Square art dealer of allegations that he knowingly sold counterfeit prints by the Spanish surrealist painter Joan Miro, defense attorneys said.

Pasquale Iannetti, 70, had been indicted by a federal grand jury in 2009 on 15 felony counts of mail and wire fraud for allegedly defrauding customers at his former Union Square gallery between 2001 and 2008.

The counterfeit prints Iannetti had acquired had forged signatures and other markings made to pass them off as originals, according to prosecutors.

Iannetti had purchased the prints from a man who represented a “well-known art dealership” in Florence, Italy, and Iannetti had no idea they were fakes, his attorney Alan Dressler said today.

Following a two-week jury trial, Iannetti was acquitted of all counts on Tuesday, Dressler said, and is now struggling to reinvigorate his business, which closed after the indictment.

Dressler said the Pasquale Iannetti Gallery, formerly located at Sutter and Powell streets, “was considered to be one of the top galleries” in the city, with a well-known library of art books as well.

“This is a person who is passionate about art, and has been his whole life,” Dressler said. “And so he's kind of starting over again at age 70…but I'm hopeful that he'll succeed.”

Iannetti is now working out of an upstairs office on Sutter Street.

“On the one hand, he's very happy that the jury acquitted him of all counts, and exonerated him,” said Dressler. “On the other hand, he still has to deal with the fact that this business that he built over 40 years has suffered greatly because of the allegations.”

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