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The World's Greatest Con (Chapter 5): Yank Barry's $533 Million Art Fraud

•, by Mark Mitchell

As if all that we have covered in earlier chapters of this long story were not enough, Yank Barry also perpetrated what is regarded by some art scholars as one of the biggest—if not the biggest—art fraud in all of history, a fraud that saw Yank Barry acquiring 740 sculptures purported to be the work of the celebrated artist Edgar Degas, with reports that those 740 sculptures were worth as much as $533 million, though the sculptures were not authentic works of Degas, and Yank had paid only $1,369 for each of the sculptures in his possession.

To this day, Yank maintains that the sculptures are genuine, but nearly every Degas expert on the planet has questioned the legitimacy of the sculptures. Furthermore, this was not a case of Yank innocently selling sculptures that he believed to be authentic. It was, rather, a case of Yank Barry masterminding and then deliberately perpetrating yet another massive fraud, and make no mistake: this was one of the biggest frauds in the history of art.

Yank Barry initially acquired a set of 74 supposed Degas sculptures, all of which purported to be genuine bronze casts of prized sculptures by Degas, and one of which purported to be a genuine bronze cast of the most famous and prized Degas sculpture of all, a sculpture called Little Dancer at Age Fourteen.

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