Wilton man pleads guilty to mail fraud after selling 140+ fake paintings

Nicholas Hatch would add paint and forge Peter Max’s signature onto a print of a Max piece, according to the FBI.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — A man from Wilton has pleaded guilty to a federal mail fraud charge after selling nearly 150 counterfeit paintings in about a two-year span.

Nicholas Hatch, 29, pleaded guilty Monday. He’s accused of selling 145 fake Peter Max paintings, defrauding 43 buyers out of a total of $2438,600 between around April 2020 and January 2022, according to the U.S. Attorney District of Connecticut’s office.

FBI New Haven started the investigation after Hatch’s former employee reported Hatch’s scheme. The FBI compiled evidence from in-person transactions at an Extra Space Storage facility and online transactions on eBay, estatesales.org and Stripe.

During the transactions, Hatch went by different names, including “Liam,” “Jeremy Ruiz,” and “Alex Cassellucci,” as well as using business names Indian Head Auctions, Hatch Estate Services, and Lions Gate Auctions. He also managed three different Stripe accounts for payments.

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Hatch would add paint and forge Max’s signature onto a print of a Max piece, according to the FBI. He’d also provide certificates of authenticity for the fake art.

Max’s art depicts a 1960s psychedelic and pop art theme.

Hatch was arrested in May 2023 and has been detained since July after violating the conditions of pre-trial release, according to the state’s U.S. Attorney’s office.

Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 30; Hatch faces a maximum of 20 years in prison.

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