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Intellectual Property Rights
04/25/2013

Seattle-area man charged with selling counterfeit works purportedly by famed Northwest artist

Defendant allegedly sold fake glass art and paintings via Internet postings

Seattle-area man charged with selling counterfeit works purportedly by famed Northwest artist
Seattle-area man charged with selling counterfeit works purportedly by famed Northwest artist

SEATTLE – A Renton, Wash., man was arrested Thursday on charges of trafficking in counterfeit goods for allegedly advertising and selling artwork attributed to renowned artist Dale Chihuly.

Michael Little, 35, was arrested following a probe by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). Little will make his initial appearance in U.S. District Court at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, in 2011 and 2012, Little offered for sale or sold various pieces of glass art and paintings that he represented were the work of Dale Chihuly. Little marketed the works on eBay. The artworks bore a signature that appeared to be Chihuly's and Little provided paperwork that he said authenticated the pieces as being by Dale Chihuly. However, an expert in Chihuly's work examined the pieces at the request of the purchaser and determined they were fakes. The papers that were supposed to authenticate the works were also allegedly forged.

Trafficking in counterfeit goods is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Diggs. The charges contained in the complaint are only allegations. A person is presumed innocent unless and until he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.