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Synthetic DNA Marker Method Could Curb Art Forgeries

The rise of art forgeries entering into the market has led the art world to consider what it can do to not only criminally penalize forgers, but also to make it difficult for forgeries to be let into the market place at all. According to the New York Times, works of art may be embedded with a synthetic DNA, creating a unique and almost impossible to duplicate DNA signature on these art pieces. This synthetic DNA would be an objective manner by which to mark art and ensure that the artwork is an original and not a well-made fake.

The Prevalence of Art Forgeries

This is one of the newest ways in which the art world (and the FBI by extension) is cracking down on forgeries. In the past, most artwork carried a letter of authenticity, and at times, the paint itself could be tested to determine whether the paint came from the same era as it was painted. However, forgeries still made their way to the market, with a substantial price tag attached as seen in the 2011 scandal where dozens of forgeries were sold by the Knoedler Gallery in Manhattan.

The Synthetic DNA Method

Originally, it was contemplated that an artist’s DNA could be incorporated into an artist’s work of art; this, however, led to serious privacy concerns due to the fact that the DNA, if placed somewhere on the canvas, could not only be taken and duplicated, but also this could lead to issues where an artist’s DNA could be stolen from them leading to safety issues. The synthetic DNA, however, is bioengineered and creates a link between the art and the authentication database; this would allow any scanner to “read” the DNA and verify that the painting is connected to the actual painter. The DNA would penetrate at the molecular level, making the DNA signature impossible to remove. Since its creation, more than three dozen artists, archives, foundations, and museums that are internationally renowned have agreed to test the technology, with hopes of implementing the system by next year.

Florida’s Law on Forgery

In Florida, section 831.01 outlines the crime of forgery. According to the statute, if a person creates, fakes, alters, modifies, or counterfeits any certificate or attestation of legal proof regarding the authenticity of money, goods, or other property, and does so with the intent to injure or defraud another person, he or she will be guilty of felony in the third degree.

Affirmative Defenses to Forgery

An effective advocate for a criminal defendant may put forth the following affirmative defenses to protect against the forgery and counterfeiting charges:

  • First and foremost, the most important element of the crime of forgery relates to the defendant’s intent. If the defendant can prove that he/she was unaware that the good/product/money/certificate was a forgery or counterfeited, he/she may be able to enjoy the affirmative defense.
  • Second, the defendant may also be able to avail him/herself of an affirmative defense if it can be shown that there was no intent to injure another person as a result of their forgery. This would be in the case where one does make a duplicate, for example, painting a duplicate of a famous work of art, but with no intention to put it out in the marketplace; but for one reason or another, it ends up there anyway. If he or she could prove that the duplicate was made for his or her own use, this defense may clear him/her from these charges.

Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale

The crime of forgery extremely serious, and if the forgery has crossed state lines, you may be subject to federal charges. If you have been charged with forgery or counterfeiting, it is important that you speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney like Kevin J. Kulik. Contact Kevin J. Kulik today for a free and confidential consultation in the Fort Lauderdale area.

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