June 15, 2016 12:03
Singer-turned-artist Cho Young-nam was indicted for fraud on Tuesday on charges of farming out his paintings to a stable of professionals. The singer's manager was also indicted.
The Chuncheon District Prosecutors' Office alleges that Cho paid two professional artists W100,000 per painting from November of 2011 until April this year and merely embellished the works afterwards.
Cho then sold 26 paintings to 20 people for a whopping W108.4 million on the understanding that he painted them himself (US$1=W1,180). Cho's manager is accused of aiding and abetting the singer. One of the ghost painters told prosecutors that he and another professional painted 200-300 pictures for the singer.
Cho claims the two were merely his assistants, but prosecutors point to the fact that they live a long way away and believe they simply handed the finished pictures over.
Prosecutors say even if Cho did not explicitly claim to have painted the pictures himself, it would constitute fraud if he failed to inform buyers that he had not.
This is the first time that an artist has been charged with fraud for farming out his paintings. A judge at a regional court said, "Regardless of guilt or innocence, the indictment alone will offer a chance to debate an issue that has been plaguing the art world for some time."
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