[Plantation, FL] In a bizarre twist worthy of an episode of CSI, a well-known artist has been arrested and charged with allegedly stealing someone’s identity and using that name to rise to international acclaim in the art world.
Celebrated modernist artist Jose Luis Alvarez – who has had his works hung in the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, at Art Basel in Miami Beach and at shows in San Francisco as well as New York – is, according to authorities and media sources, not actually Jose Luis Alvarez.
The artist formerly known as Jose Luis Alvarez is now classified as “FNU LNU” – the law enforcement acronym for “first name unknown, last name unknown.”
Apparently, FNU LNU – as he will now be referred to until all of this can be sorted out – stole a a New York man’s date of birth and Social Security number more than 20 years ago and has been using it ever since.
FNU LNU, purportedly 43, initially claimed to have been born in Venezuela, then … New York, according to court records. He was arrested on a charge of supplying false information to obtain a United States passport. That very serious crime is worth up to 10 years in prison.
As Jose Luis Alvarez, FNU LNU earned an international reputation worthy of the finest of modern artists, with colorful paintings that intrigued many in the art community. But he also has a past more colorful than his well-respected art.
The Amazing Randi
Back in 1988, the Amazing Randi called out FNU LNU for faking it as a “channeler” of the spirit “Carlos” in a famous “sting operation” that played out on Australian TV. But at least then it was a hoax, with FNU LNU playing the part of the fraudulent man with a “gift” and Randi, well, being Randi.
For those not in the know, the Amazing Randi was a professional magician and debunker of frauds. He was seemingly able to spot fake channelers, clairvoyants and the like, which is not really that big of a deal when you think about it since they are all fakes in the first place.
So basically he was a fraud who debunked frauds. Nice work if you can get it.
That didn’t stop audiences from clamoring for the Randi-led performance art act, including such luminaries as Carl Sagan and Isaac Asimov, who were drawn into Randi’s mysterious world.
Adding to the plot is that authorities believe that the Amazing Randi has been Alvarez’ partner for a decade and put on the Carlos and Randi show for 15 years. They currently share a home in Plantation. Yep.
How will all this play out? Inquiring minds want to know.
By: Michael Tristani II/Sunshine Slate
Images: Alvarez (Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office), Randi (personal website) Resource: Sun Sentinel