Sting Nets Art Fraud Suspect

December 27, 2004

Los Angeles: On December 16, 2004, Los Angeles Police Department’s Art Theft Detail arrested Dr. Dvilas V. Likhite, 66-years-old, a past physician and Harvard professor. He sold a phony Mary Cassatt painting for $800,000 to undercover officers posing as Korean businessmen. Likhite was in possession of other artwork purportedly by Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Hans Hofmann, Constantin Brancusi and Marie Laurencin. Additional phony arts were seized from a residence and a storage unit in Mission Viejo where he lives.
Detectives also recovered a phony Willem de Kooning artwork that Likhite reported stolen in a burglary of his home in Mission Viejo in 2003. He claimed it was worth $1.5 million. Likhite had hidden the artwork with a friend after reporting the burglary.
Dr. Likhite moved to Orange County following a criminal conviction for selling fake art in Massachusetts in 1989. This was the same year his medical license was revoked for gross misconduct. He was also the subject of a federal civil case alleging sales of fake art in 1985.
He used brokers to sell art to private parties and to invest money in his art collection. He avoided major auction houses and art dealers, but preyed on people less knowledgeable about fine art.
On December 20, 2004, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed one count of Attempt Grand Theft against Likhite with a bail of $250,000.
Detectives would like to speak with those who have had business dealings with Likhite, especially regarding art sales or investments. Anyone who has information about Dr. Likhite’s activities can contact the Art Theft Detail Detectives, at 213-485-2524.
This News Advisory was prepared by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section, at 213-485-3586.