ORLANDO, Fla. — The FBI swooped in on the Orlando Museum of Art on Friday and took possession of a popular collection of paintings.
It all stems from the controversy over a collection by late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat that some are calling fake.
The museum is not under investigation and is cooperating.
Visitors at the Orlando Museum of Art were frustrated on Friday. They were hoping to see Jean-Michel Basquiat’s famous “Heroes & Monsters” exhibit. It is said to be the only showing by the graffiti artist who died in 1988.
“I’d been planning on this probably half a year already or whenever it went up ... I’m quite disappointed they’re not letting us in,” said Janice Kadushin.
We learned that a team of FBI agents were on-site to load up the entire collection.
The 25 paintings, billed as Basquiat’s originals, had been found in a storage locker with an estimated value of $100 million.
Controversy has surrounded the paintings since a New York Times article suggested that they could all be fakes. Critics point to a FedEx logo, questioning whether it was in use before the artist died.
A spokesperson with the museum said it complied with the FBI’s request to turn over the work.
“We have not been led to believe the museum has been the subject of any investigation … We will continue to cooperate and see our involvement purely as a face witness,” the statement said.
The exhibit was set to close this week.
We reached out to the FBI for more details on its visit.
The FBI told us that “court-authorized activity” was conducted at the museum and questioning should be directed to the FBI Los Angeles office.
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