U.S. authorities seized about 2,200 works by such influential 20th-century photographers as Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Steichen and Edward Weston before the collection was shipped to Spain. The massive trove is valued at $16 million.
An 18-wheeler transported 1,100 of the photographs from Texas to New Jersey and then to a New York warehouse last year when U.S. authorities began an investigation. The works were bound for a Spanish residence via Amsterdam.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark announced on Friday that a Feb. 22 court filing alleges the artwork was purchased with money collected in a scheme that sold fake credits for renewable energy.
The complaint seeks to force the owner, Philip Rivkin, to forfeit the photograph collection. The Feds allege that his Houston-based company, Green Diesel, fraudulently funneled money into forming the collection.
Rivkin has not been formally charged with a crime.