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Rising art world star ‘faked’ works by famous pal Raymond Pettibon

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Rising art world star ‘faked’ works by famous pal Raymond Pettibon

Christian Rosa had a knack for charming people. As a rising art star in Los Angeles, New York City and Vienna, he got into the good graces of dealers, collectors and fellow artists, who were reportedly enamored of his loose, abstract style of work that fell into the category of “zombie formalism.” A writer in Artnet described Rosa’s art as a “lightbulb of visual pleasure turning on.”

“He was always nice to us and a good artist,” Michael Hort, a New York-based collector who bought a half-dozen or so of Rosa’s pieces, told The Post. “Way before he got in trouble … he was extremely friendly and generous. We liked his work and when we like an artist’s work we buy it.”

Among his boosters, reportedly, was Raymond Pettibon, famous for having created the logo for the punk band Black Flag and record cover illustrations for groups like Sonic Youth and Foo Fighters. Pettibon’s coveted canvases now sell for as much as $1.2 million through top dealer David Zwirner.

“There’s a lot of Instagram evidence that they were friends and that [Pettibon] was [Rosa’s] mentor,” Joseph Ian Henrikson, founder of Manhattan’s Anonymous Gallery, told Vanity Fair.

At a show at The Hole gallery in Manhattan, the two artists painted one another’s portrait. They were known to gamble together at the dog track and swap their art.

Pettibon’s highly regarded “Wave Series,” seen here at an exhibition, inspired Rosa’s forgeries.
picture alliance via Getty Images

Pettibon and Rosa, now 39, were sufficiently tight that on Sept. 17, 2019, the former tweeted gratitude to Rosa and another LA-based artist for convening with him: “Thank you Christian Rosa and Henry Taylor for coming by. Great artists and kind, genuine people. You made my day.”

Little did Pettibon, now 64, know, though, that his pal Rosa was in the midst of perpetrating a nervy, high-flying fraud against him.

But two years later, on Oct. 14, 2021, Pettibon retweeted something else about his former mentee: “The artist Christian Rosa was charged with selling forgeries of Raymond Pettibon’s work.”

According to an indictment issued by United States District Court, Southern District of New York, Christian Rosa Weinberger, aka Christian Rosa, engaged in a “scheme to sell forged Raymond Pettibon artworks.” The works in question are based on Pettibon’s highly regarded “Wave Series” of paintings, depicting gigantic curls of water, sometimes engulfing surfers, with pithy text — “Are your motives pure?” one asks.

Pettibon's friend, Christian Rosa has been charged in with fraud in this known replica.
Artnet reported in January 2021 that the secondary art market was suspicious of a Pettibon work that had “seemingly strange” colors, misplacement of text and a too-careful signature.
SDNY

The alleged criminal activity — described in the indictment as “a scheme to defraud potential art buyers” — is said to have run from 2017 until 2020. As outlined in the court documents, around 2018, an unnamed collector arranged Rosa’s sale of two works to a third party, who paid six figures via wire transfer. The works came complete with bogus certificates of authenticity.

Two more forged 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 work by Rosa, has some 45 Pettibon pieces, found it more believable. “Pettibon is easy to knock off,” said Hort, co-founder of the Rema Hort Mann Foundation. “They’re easy to replicate. They are not that complicated, though you keep going back and finding new things to look at.”

In a possibly unrelated event, professional gambler Rick Salomon had a Pettibon pulled from auction in 2020.

“Someone sold me [a Pettibon] painting. I traded a real, smaller Pettibon for it plus cash. It was an upgrade, I thought. Then I decided I didn’t love it … [and] was going to put it in auction,” Salomon told The Post via text. “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] in auction.

“So I thought this was weird, my friend threatening to sue me. I … put it in auction. My understanding is that Pettibon called the auction house and said it’s fake.” 

What started out as friendship between Raymond Pettibon (left) and Christian Rosa (right) has now devolved into a legal battle between the two artists.
Pettibon (left) was reportedly a mentor to Rosa (right), and the two would sometimes go gambling at the dog track.
Getty Images (2)

Quoted in the indictment is a “co-conspirator” of Rosa’s, who wondered why it was taking so long for a deal to be consummated.

Rosa explained the need to find a buyer who would agree to hold onto the work and not risk exposing its lack of authenticity through the scrutiny of auction house specialists. “I am not trying to get busted,” he replied to the person via text. “So that’s why it’s takeing [sic] so long.”

According to the indictment, Rosa spent proceeds from the second deal “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 fashion model Helena Severin had purchased a five-bedroom house in Riverside, Calif., for $1.135 million.

On Jan. 29, 2021, Artnet broke news that a Pettibon being shopped to art advisors on the secondary market was raising suspicions. Dealers were reportedly made uneasy by irregularities in the work — what Artnet described as “seemingly strange yellow-greens blended into Pettibon’s normal cobalt blues,” misplacement of text and a too-careful signature.

Pettibon rose to fame with creating album covers for such bands such as Sonic Youth (left) Foo Fighters (center) and creating the iconic logo for punk bank Black Flag (right).
Pettibon rose to fame for illustrating album covers for Sonic Youth and the Foo Fighters and by creating the iconic logo for punk bank Black Flag.

The article referred to “multiple sources” who maintained that Rosa purloined an unfinished work from Pettibon’s studio, “allegedly finished the work” and “consigned it to the secondary market as the owner, as if it were a genuine item.”

Rosa reacted to the news by messaging his co-conspirator: “The secret is out.”

A couple days later, according to the indictment, Rosa emailed Pettibon and said that the work was an “overpainted print.”

Weeks after the Artnet exposure, Rosa fled the United States. A few months later, the Riverside home he shared with Severin was sold. The indictment alleges that an attempt was made to “transfer the funds abroad.”

Following a lawsuit against him, Rosa fled to Portugal, was arrested and extradited to the US.
Rosa’s own work was reportedly collected by A-listers such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Jay-Z.
WireImage

Vanity Fair reported Rosa calling a friend during this time and describing himself as “America’s most wanted.” The artist’s undoing may have come when Severin posted an Instagram picture that showed a bottle of Mil Fontes water, a local brand that revealed her location on the Alentejo coast in Portugal.

Earlier this month, Rosa was arrested in Portugal and extradited to the US.

Art world insiders point out that Rosa enjoyed a rapid, if reckless, rise, which made his landing particularly hard to handle — and may have contributed to him taking desperate measures.

Born in Rio de Janeiro, he has said that he and his family later moved to Vienna “because Brazil was so dangerous.” Rosa showed up in Los Angeles around 2010. One early benefactor, Stefan Simchowitz, a collector and gallerist in LA, liked Rosa’s art enough that, at that time, he rented an apartment for Rosa and bought him art supplies in exchange for work.

Pettibon was Rosa's mentor until the relationship soured.
Pettibon retweeted an announcement that Rosa had been charged with selling forgeries of his work.
WireImage

“I happened to be having dinner with a bunch of friends, including Hugh Grant,” Simchowitz told The Post. “[Rosa] came, 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 his gallery shows piled up and prices increased.

“All [Christian] did was take advantage of people,” claimed Simchowitz who said he got into a shoving match 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 being artists, take unethical stands. Christian was highly unethical. I had to threaten him with litigation. I was able to recover a fraction of the paintings I paid for.”

Rosa wound up being sued by another LA collector over undelivered art that is described in the legal complaint as “six works … estimated to be in excess of $400,000” that had been promised in exchange for “use or occupancy of plaintiff’s art studio.”

Collector and friend Stefan Simchowitz (right) says friend and artist Rosa (left) is talented but uses people.
Collector Stefan Simchowitz told The Post of his former friend Rosa too “advantage of people.”
Courtesy of Stefan Simchowitz

According to a knowledgeable source: “We had to seize Christian’s Ferrari through a court order. It was in a garage with a [large] photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger oiled down during his body-building days.”

That lawsuit 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. A-listers like Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio were collecting his work. In 2014, a piece of his fetched $209,000 at Christies. Hort believes Rosa “lived at that level” — that of an artist whose work routinely sells in the six figures

“Then the market crashed,” Hort added. Rosa’s works were going for more like $30,000. “He got stuck. He got stupid.”

Still, considering Rosa’s talents, Simchowitz said: “How this guy f—–d it up is beyond imagination.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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