Con Man. The many faces of Howard Cogitz.
Identity is an interesting thing. We dress and decorate ourselves to convey a message to others, communicating to them with intentionality or not “this is what I want you to think about who I am.” What is interesting about this, though, is that most people don’t interpret our message the way we intend. Our identity and the opinions of others are inextricably linked together, for better or worse. Our identity forms opinions. Others opinions mold and form our identity.
Identity is something I have been thinking about a lot over the last several years as I try to understand more about myself, and how I view others. In 2015, I created a portrait series called Members Only, where I styled 13 people to look exactly the same. Once I finished that series, I wanted to explore multiple identities in a single person, and wondered what was the extent of the range of a single human face. In a portrait, visually, how much can one person change? With that, I give you Con Man.
Howard Cogitz is one of the most prolific American con men of the 20th century. His first known con was in 1958 while running a fake real estate development company in Florida. At best count, he walked away with over 3 million dollars from nearly 16 individuals and families.
In 1963 he spread out, with known ties to Las Vegas, New York, and San Francisco. It seems he may have primarily lived in Florida under many different aliases, which indicates he may have originally been from there. His main game was to create fake corporations in the real estate business and offer investment opportunities to people beginning to think about retirement. His work can be traced from 1958 to 1971 when all signs of him vanished. He was never caught or arrested, although there is record of him receiving a traffic ticket for speeding in Los Angeles during 1964 under the name Charles Barber.
Below are some behind the scenes pictures for those of you who like to see how things are made. A very big thank you to Jennifer Popochock, Alexis Steinman, Brian Kirk, Viktor Fejes, Duffy De Armas, my wife Nichelle, and Peter Hanson. Behind the scenes pictures by Peter Hanson. I feel like this is just the start of something pretty exciting.