NEW YORK — Law enforcement officials said last week that a nine-month undercover investigation into the sales of fake Tiffany jewelry and accessories led to the arrests of three alleged counterfeiters and the seizure of merchandise valued at well over $2.6 million.
In raids last Thursday at three stores in and around Canal Street, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working in conjunction with the United States attorney’s office in Brooklyn, seized 6,900 pieces of counterfeit Tiffany jewelry, including knockoffs of some of the jewelry retailer’s best-known jewelry designs and even the company’s famed tiny blue box packaging.
Nadine Renee Vargas and Yaniv Shamir, the proprietors of Starglam.com, a Web site based in Staten Island that sold the counterfeit items bought from Canal Street, were arrested and arraigned last Tuesday. Chee-Soon Tai, the owner and operator of Enndi Silver, at 251 Canal Street in lower Manhattan, was arrested and arraigned on Thursday. He was found with 4,168 pieces, valued at $979,480. Two other storefronts in the Canal Street area were also raided.
All were charged with conspiracy to commit criminal copywrite infringement. The maximum penalty is five years imprisonment and fines of up to $250,000, according to Michael Asaro, an assistant U.S. attorney for the eastern district of New York.
The FBI last September received a complaint regarding the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit Tiffany jewelry through the Web site, Starglam.com. In December, FBI agents searched the Staten Island business of Vargas and Shamir and found roughly 600 pieces of sterling silver jewelry and boxes of shopping bags bearing the Tiffany logo, valued at roughly $90,000.
Vargas said she would typically purchase 10 to 20 jewelry pieces from Enndi Silver, paying roughly $2,000 to $3,000 for the jewelry. In January, an undercover FBI agent went to the Canal Street store and purchased a counterfeit sterling silver chain, which was on display for roughly $22. The authentic piece of jewelry sells in the retail market for approximately $195.
Last Thursday, officials found an additional 6,900 pieces spread among three stores. Tiffany representatives have estimated the retail value for authentic merchandise would be about $1.6 million.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast