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Art Heist? Fine art photo disappears in nationwide credit card con

A Seattle-based artist sent a $3,500 photograph to a Denver apartment complex. But as it turned out, he was the victim of an elaborate scheme that spanned three cities.
Christopher Boffoli
Posted at 5:59 PM, Apr 04, 2023

DENVER — Christopher Boffoli wants his photograph back.

The Seattle-based artist shipped the last available print of his art piece "Champagne Scuba" to a Denver apartment complex. But as it turned out, Boffoli was the victim of an elaborate scheme that spanned three cities.

Boffoli is best known for a series of photographs where he imprints tiny figures in photographs against food. "Champagne Scuba" is one of his most popular pieces.

In December, an individual went to a Boston art gallery and bought three of his photographs for just over $10,000 total.

Receipts show a man named Gebe Gazanine bought the final edition of "Champagne Scuba," which FedEx then shipped to the Deco Apartments in Denver.

Boffoli told Contact Denver7 the buyer asked for credit card refunds on the two other photographs, so those were never shipped. He asked that those refunds be put on another credit card; however, the gallery made the refunds to the purchasing card.

Weeks later, according to a Seattle Police Department report, the gallery found out the buyer's credit cards were stolen, including the one used to buy the piece that was shipped to Denver.

Boffoli and the gallery ended up losing $3,500, and "Champagne Scuba" has now disappeared.

He filed a police report in Seattle, but said investigators told him they did not have the manpower to investigate this, even though it is categorized as grand larceny.

"And then you find yourself a victim of a crime where there's kind of no rule of law," Boffoli said. "Yes, we have laws, but there's just nobody available to enforce it."

Boffoli hired Aurora private investigator Sammie Swearingen to track down Gazanine, but efforts have been unsuccessful so far.

"We started [searching] that name, nothing. We use variations of that name, nothing. Nothing came up," said Swearingen.

The PI firm spoke to a representative at Deco apartments, as well. Swearingen said the manager told her she couldn't tell her anything without a unit number, which was not on the shipping form. However, the manager did say that someone with the same first name as Gazanine was a resident there.

Boffoli wants other art galleries and artists to know about the scheme, and he is holding out hope that his photo will turn up.

"It makes me feel a little better to just tell the story and to let people know this is happening," Boffoli said. "Maybe there's somebody in the apartment that knows this guy or is in this building, and will see this piece of work. ... Getting the word out is never a bad thing."

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