Arrests made in art scam
Members of Thunder Bay Police Service (TBPS) and the OPP have arrested eight individuals for their involvement in the apparent fraudulent manufacturing and distribution of artwork purported to be that of Indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau.
Morrisseau, also known as Copper Thunderbird, was a prolific Indigenous artist from the Bingwi Neyaashi Anishinaabek First Nation. Before his death in 2007, allegations began to emerge of individuals creating and selling art under his name and made in his distinctive Woodland School of Art style.
Since 2020 and together with the TBPS, a major case manager with the OPP Criminal Investigation Branch has been leading the investigation of the alleged production, distribution and sale of fake artwork falsely attributed to the late Morrisseau.
As a result of this two-and-a-half- year investigation, eight people were arrested on March 1 and are facing 40 total charges. More than 1,000 alleged fraudulent paintings, prints and other artworks have been seized. Some of these paintings sold for tens of thousands of dollars to unsuspecting members of the public who had no reason to believe they weren’t genuine.