SEATTLE -- Attorney General Christine Gregoire filed suit today accusing a Seattle fine arts dealer of selling fake Asian and Chinese art.
The consumer protection suit, filed in King County Superior Court, alleges Thesaurus Fine Arts engaged in unfair and deceptive acts by misleading customers. The Seattle business, now closed, sold pottery represented to be hundreds of years old from a downtown store-front location as well as through Internet auctions on eBay.
Thesaurus gallery owners, husband and wife Steven and Linda Cheung, are also named in the lawsuit. They are accused of violating the Consumer Protection Act by selling the fake antiques to Washington state buyers and customers nationwide.
The complaint alleges that between March 1, 1998 and February 28, 2003, the Cheung's misrepresented the age, date of manufacture, authenticity and value of the ceramic and pottery items.
The lawsuit calls for civil penalties of $2,000 per violation against each defendant. It also calls for injunctive relief, restraining the couple from engaging in any more of the alleged deceptive practices.
The Attorney General's Office began investigating after The Seattle Times published reports that the Cheungs were selling fake artifacts.
"This case highlights an important lesson for consumers who buy art, collectables or antiques. Do your homework and beware of a deal that sounds too good to be true," Gregoire said.
Steven Cheung, an economist, taught at the University of Washington for 13 years. The Cheungs failed to appear in U.S. District Court last year on criminal charges stemming from alleged unpaid taxes, and their current location is unknown