Monday, February 24, 2014

Queens Foundry: Owner Forgery (2014)

Brian Ramnarine outside his 2014 trial
In the scandals examined by many below, the latent effects involved a decrease in revenue for the market at hand. Contrasting after effects, this scandal has been followed by a "bloom" in the Fine Art Industry (Mullin). In recent development, a Queens Empire Bronze Foundry Owner, Brian Ramnarine, was found guilty for forgery of a roughly $11,000,00 sculpture, what he claimed was a Jasper John piece (Janos). Passively enough, he plead no contest to the charge, but this occurred AFTER an initial plea of not guilty. A rather deviant approach to the scandal, his lawyer remarked that, "Mr. Ramnarine wanted to accept responsibility for what’d he done, so he approached the government and changed his mind" (Janos). In addition two accounts of fraud for inauthentic sculptures (Janos). The fine's include: "$15,000 to $150,000; order forfeitures of $34,250 and fraudulent artwork; and order restitution of $33,000 to an art gallery that purchased the fraudulent works of Mr. Indiana and Mr. Cemin" (Janos). If proven guilty he can be sentenced up to 80 years in prison (Janos). Shortly after this conviction, research was conducted that shows, "at least 40 counterfeit paintings were sold through what was considered one of New York's most prestigious, reputable galleries" (Mullin). A rather shocking statistic that is counter intuitive to what we would hope would be true about art galleries, their authenticity. The stake holders are the artists and the buyers of the fake art. Brian's deviance certainly puts him in the category of scandals that business ethics tends to analyze.

As a primary theory that relates to my argument, defining Individualism (or The Economic Theory) can help observers of this scandal better identify the issue at hand. The theory states that, "everyone has the right to pursue his[/her] own interests and should do so, but no one has a right to make other people’s choices about their pursuits for them" (Salazar Week 2). Seemingly fair enough, Individualism essentially deploys the 'Golden Rule' we all know and love. Brian certainly disobeys the economic theory because he intends to take money from people without giving them the 'right' to the real art they deserve to own based on their valid purchase. He also cheats the original artists, because with every fake sale, revenue towards John (Figure One) is lost. This act in general is rather distasteful, and the multitude of value at which it is occurring shows how scandalous Brian's actions really are.

Casting metal in a Queens foundry

Moving to another important theory, one finds themselves face to face with John Mill and the ideology of Utilitarianism which states that, "we ought to bring about happiness and pleasure in all beings capable of feeling it (and do so impartially)" (Salazar Week 3). Applying this to business theory means maximizing the happiness within the company as well as in the customers and subsidiaries on the outside of the business. The company in this case would be John, if it wasn't for the fraudulence of Brian. But in the case the Brian was a man of the public eye, he shouldn't want to cheat people out of their money and art, and maximize his own happiness by gaining huge profits like $11 million.

A third and defining theory that applies to the GSK bribery scandal is that of Kantianism (or Kant's Theory). The main principles of this theory include acting rationally, allowing others to react rationally, "respecting individual needs and differences", and being "motivated by Good Will" (Salazar Week 3). Fraudulence is by no means rational because it puts multiple parties at risk with big consequences. Others can't react simply because they think they are receiving the real product, or art in this case. In terms of needs and differences, many people paying for this art or having in shown in museums need the original painting for the sake of their own jobs, multiple needs must be met. Brian was most likely not motivated be Good Will, moreso a personal gain. A section of Kant Theory that is very popular as of current is The Formula of Humanity which states that we should "'act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means' (Kant, MM 429)" (Salazar Week 3). Brian focused on the money rather than the beauty and joy of displaying art publicly for the eye to see. His fraudulence disobeyed the formula of humanity by depriving many with the end, or the ability to view the original art.

Virtue Theory
Ramnarine's immitation of Jasper John's
iconic 1960 metal sculpture of a flag painting
A final theory I propose connects to the Foundry Owner Scandal is that of Virtue Theory. Virtues by definition are "the characteristics that allow things to function properly" and depend greatly on function and circumstance (Salazar Week 4). Specific to business, there are four main virtues, courage: "risk-taking and willingness to take a stand for the right ideas and actions", honesty: truthful interaction " in agreements, hiring and treatment of employees, customers and other companies", temperance: reasonable desires, and justice: "hard work, quality products, good ideas, fair practices" (Salazar Week 4). Biran took risks, but not ethical ones, gaining based on fraudulence is not a courageous virtue. Honesty is out the window the second money is cheated from John, if Brian had been honest, fraudulence wouldn't have occurred and we would not have a scandal to analyze. Brian doesn't show very good temperance seeing as an 11 million dollar pay off is a little criminally extreme. Beyond an unspeakable doubt, Brian fails to meet the ethical and moral standards that a person in power of his caliber should possess. 


Janos, Adam. "Queens Foundry Owner Pleads Guilty in Jasper Johns Forgery Trial."Metropolis RSS. Wall Street Journal, 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

Mullin, Sheppard. "United States: Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing: Despite Forgery Scandals, The Fine Art Market Is Booming." Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing: Despite Forgery Scandals, The Fine Art Market Is Booming. Mondaq, 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.

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