Christian Rosa had the gift of charming people. As a rising star of art in Los Angeles, New York and Vienna, he fell into the good graces of dealers, collectors and his fellow artists, who would have fallen in love with his loose, abstract style of working that fell under the category of “zombie formalism”. An Artnet writer described Rosa’s art as “a light bulb of visual pleasure that lights up.”
“He’s always been nice to us and a good artist,” Michael Hort, a New York-based collector who bought half a dozen pieces from Rosa, told The Post. “Long before he got into trouble… he was extremely sympathetic and generous. We loved his work and when we love an artist’s work, we buy it.
Among his boosters, it would seem that Raymond Pettibon, famous for having created the logo of the punk group Black Flag and illustrations of record covers for groups like Sonic Youth and Foo Fighters. Pettibon’s coveted canvases are now selling for up to $ 1.2 million through top dealer David Zwirner.
“There is a lot of evidence on Instagram that they were friends and that [Pettibon] has been [Rosa’s] mentor ”, Joseph Ian Henrikson, founder of the anonymous Manhattan gallery, says Vanity Fair.
During an exhibition at The Hole Gallery in Manhattan, the two artists painted each other’s portraits. They were known to play dog tracks together and swap their art.
Pettibon and Rosa, now 39, were tight enough that on September 17, 2019, the former gratitude tweet to Rosa and another LA based artist for meeting with him: “Thank you Christian Rosa and Henry Taylor for coming. Great artists and nice, genuine people. You made my day.
Little did Pettibon, now 64, be aware, however, that his girlfriend Rosa was in the process of perpetrating a nervous and high-profile fraud against him.
But two years later, on October 14, 2021, Pettibon retweeted something else about his former mentee: “Artist Christian Rosa has been accused of selling counterfeits of Raymond Pettibon’s work.
According to an indictment issued by the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, Christian Rosa Weinberger, alias Christian Rosa, is engaged in a “project to sell counterfeit works of art by Raymond Pettibon ”. The works in question are based on Pettibon’s much-loved “Wave Series”, depicting gigantic loops of water, sometimes engulfing surfers, with a pithy text – “Are your designs pure?” we ask.
The alleged criminal activity – described in the indictment as “a scheme to defraud potential art buyers” – is believed to have lasted from 2017 to 2020. As stated by the court documents, around 2018, an anonymous collector organized the sale of two works by Rosa to a third party, who paid six figures Wire Transfer. The works were accompanied by false certificates of authenticity.
Two other counterfeit paintings were then sold to the collector. An art insider in LA expressed surprise to the Post that Rosa was able to convincingly copy Pettibon’s work.
But Hort, who in addition to owning a work by Rosa, owns some 45 pieces by Pettibon, found it more credible. “Pettibon is easy to knock down,” said Hort, co-founder of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. “They are easy to reproduce. They aren’t that complicated even if you keep going back and finding new things to watch.
In a possibly unrelated event, pro player Rick Salomon had a Pettibon removed from an auction in 2020.
“Someone sold me [a Pettibon] The painting. I traded a real, smaller Pettibon for cash. It was an upgrade, I thought. Then I decided I didn’t like it … [and] was going to put it up for auction, ”Salomon told the Post via text message. “The seller said they were going to sue me [for auctioning it]. I never signed a piece of paper saying I couldn’t sell or put [it] at auction.
“So I thought it was weird, my friend threatening to sue me. I… put it up for auction. From what I understood, Pettibon called the auction house and said it was wrong. ”
Cited in the indictment, a “co-conspirator” of Rosa, who questioned why it was taking so long for a deal to be reached.
Rosa explained the need to find a buyer who would be willing to keep the work and not risk exposing its lack of authenticity through the scrutiny of the auction house’s specialists. “I’m not trying to get arrested,” he replied to the person via text. “This is why it is necessary [sic] So long.”
According to the indictment, Rosa spent the proceeds of the second transaction “to make the down payment and subsequent mortgage payments on a residence in California.” On March 9, 2020, the NW Riverside News reported that Rosa and model Helena Severin had bought a five-bedroom home in Riverside, Calif., for $ 1.135 million.
January 29, 2021, Artnet broken news that a Pettibon sold to art advisers on the secondary market raised suspicion. Dealers were said to have been hampered by irregularities in the work – what Artnet described as “seemingly odd yellow-greens mixed with Pettibon’s normal cobalt blue,” poor text placement and overly cautious signature.
The article referred to “multiple sources” who claimed that Rosa had stolen an unfinished work from Pettibon’s studio, “allegedly finished the job” and “handed it over to the aftermarket as owner, like s’ it was an authentic article ”.
Rosa responded to the news by sending a message to her co-conspirator: “The secret is out. ”
A few days later, according to the indictment, Rosa emailed Pettibon and said the work was a “repainted print.”
Weeks after the Artnet exhibition, Rosa fled the United States. A few months later, the Riverside house he shared with Severin was sold. The indictment alleges that an attempt was made to “transfer the funds overseas”.
Vanity Fair reported that Rosa called a friend during this time and described herself as “America’s most wanted”. The loss of the artist may have come when Severin posted a photo on Instagram showing a bottle of Mil Fontes water, a local brand that revealed its location on Portugal’s Alentejo coast.
Earlier this month Rosa was arrested in Portugal and extradited to the United States.
Insiders in the art world point out that Rosa experienced a rapid, albeit reckless, rise, which made her landing particularly difficult to manage – and may have contributed to her taking desperate measures.
Born in Rio de Janeiro, he said he and his family then moved to Vienna “because Brazil was so dangerous”. Rosa arrived in Los Angeles around 2010. One of the first benefactors, Stefan Simchowitz, collector and gallery owner in Los Angeles, liked Rosa’s art enough that at that time, he rented an apartment for Rosa and bought her money. art materials in exchange for work.
“I happened to be dining with a group of friends, including Hugh Grant,” Simchowitz told The Post. “[Rosa] came over, was charming and told me he was broke.
According to Simchowitz, the friendship ended badly, with Rosa failing to deliver on the promised art, even as her gallery’s exhibitions piled up and prices rose.
“All [Christian] made people benefit, ”said Simchowitz who said he had fought with Rosa while being filmed for a German documentary. “There is an idea that artists are always the victims, but there are circumstances where artists do not fulfill their obligations. Artists can be very unethical. They can do crazy things and, under the protection of artists, take unethical positions. Christian was very unethical. I had to threaten him with litigation. I was able to recover a fraction of the paintings I paid for.
Rosa ended up being sued by another LA collector for undelivered artwork described in the legal complaint as “six works … valued at over $ 400,000” that had been promised in return for “the use or the occupation of the applicant’s art studio ”.
According to an informed source: “We had to seize Christian’s Ferrari by way of a court order. It was in a garage with a [large] photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger oiled up during his bodybuilding days.
This trial was filed in 2014 and the following year, according to Vanity Fair, Rosa “closed on a new 11,000 square foot studio space” in downtown LA. Stars like Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio collected his work. In 2014, one of his pieces was sold for $ 209,000 at Christies. Hort believes Rosa “lived on this level” – that of an artist whose work regularly sells for six figures
“Then the market collapsed,” Hort added. Rosa’s works cost over $ 30,000. “He got stuck. He has become stupid.
Still, considering Rosa’s talents, Simchowitz said, “How this guy fucked up is beyond imagination.”