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The Art of Fraud Evidence Files


A Doctor's Fall

In 1989, Harvard-educated Dr. Vilas Likhite loses his medical license for injecting patients with experimental drugs. He turns to a new life --- a life of crime. Likhite becomes an art dealer who sells fraudulent art. (Source: Los Angeles Police Department)

New Circle of Friends

Likhite moves to California where he meets a new circle of wealthy and influential friends. His former friend, entrepreneur George Gaulding, remembers Likhite as a jolly and pleasant person. But Gaulding becomes suspicious when Likhite wants to borrow money. Gaulding remembers others saying, "here's a guy that claims he's got a billion dollars worth of art. Why didn't he live like it?" (Source: Kurtis Productions)

A Friendship Goes Sour

Vilas Likhite loans his friend George Gaulding this Mary Cassatt painting, which Likhite claims is worth $750 thousand dollars. Gaulding gets the painting appraised and finds it's worth $1 thousand dollars, counting the frame. The friendship ends. (Source: Los Angeles Police Department)

The Gig is Up

Likhite asks businessman Garry Pearson to become his broker, even though Pearson has no professional experience dealing in art. Pearson is cautious about the offer, has Likhite's supposed multi-million dollar art collection, appraised and discovers it's all bogus. Pearson reports Vilas Likhite to the Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail. (Source: Kurtis Productions)

The Set Up

In 2004, Detective Donald Hrycyk of the Los Angeles Police Department's Art Theft Detail begins looking into Vilas Likhite art dealership. After his investigation, Hrycyk sets up a sting operation to catch Likhite in the act. He is quite successful. (Source: Kurtis Productions)

Fake Buddha

During the sting operation, Vilas Likhite says this Buddha is from 11th Century China, made of jade and worth $48 million. Police later discover it actually it is made out of serpentine (a common rock from California) and worth $1 thousand. (Source: Los Angeles Police Department)

The Evidence

Inside Vilas Likhite's condo, detectives find numerous books on art fraud and hundreds of pieces of fake art. (Source: Los Angeles Police Department)

Guilty As Charged

jury finds Vilas Likhite guilty of attempted grand theft. He's sentenced to one year in prison and is released on time served. (Source: Los Angeles Police Department)