Vincent Lopreto mug shot

Vincent Lopreto, 52, via Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

An admitted art scammer who previously pleaded guilty to selling six figures' worth of fake paintings by the famed British artist Damien Hirst was jailed in New Orleans on Wednesday.

Vincent G. Lopreto, 52, was picked up on a New York warrant accusing him of grand larceny and identity theft. Specifics about the case weren't immediately available, but the warrant — signed Monday — apparently involved a past investigation there that had ensnared Lopreto. 

Lopreto agreed Thursday to return to New York without fighting extradition, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court records show.

New Orleans police arrested him in the 300 block of Royal Street, in the French Quarter, about 10 a.m. Wednesday. He listed his home address as a unit in a luxury apartment complex in the 700 block of Carondelet Street. 

Lopreto and his partner in a Laguna Beach, California, art gallery pleaded guilty in 2014 to using fake letters of authenticity to sell counterfeit pieces online and through auction houses by Hirst, who is reputed to be the world's wealthiest living artist.

Lopreto and the partner, Ronald Bell, admitted to charges of identity theft and scheme to defraud in Manhattan state court as part of a plea deal.

In exchange for lighter sentences, both then testified against a Miami pastor named Kevin Sutherland who was convicted of trying to sell five fake Hirst paintings for $185,000 to an undercover cop pretending to be an art buyer, according to the New York Post.

Sutherland had bought his Hirst collection from Lopreto and Bell. 

Prior to that case, Lopreto had another art fraud conviction that earned him a five-year prison sentence, the New York Post reported.

Lopreto's biography on his gallery website describes him as a native of Brooklyn. 

Manhattan investigators did not respond to a request for comment Thursday on Lopreto's arrest in New Orleans. 

Staff writer Helen Freund contributed to this report. 

Follow Ramon Antonio Vargas on Twitter, @RVargasAdvocate.

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