United States

How a charming art dealer became a wanted fraudster

By most indications, Ezra Chowaiki ranked among New York City’s top art dealers. From 2004 to 2017, his eponymous gallery on Park Avenue showed work by artists such as ­Degas, Picasso and Calder. He dealt to wealthy collectors including former Warhol superstar “Baby” Jane Holzer. High-end dealers Helly Nahmad and Michael Black did business with him. “He was a charming [and] likable guy,” said Thomas C. Danziger, a Manhattan attorney who has negotiated with Chowaiki on behalf of ­clients. “Lots of very reputable people dealt with him.” But none likely anticipated that Chowaiki would emerge as a criminal who skimmed cash, sold art he did not own and neglected to pay clients for works he sold on their behalf. Pleading gu ...