...into buying fake paintings worth £180,000 is jailed
- Dealer told galleries his father gifted the fine art to him
- Police found copies of Picasso, Bacon and Freud in his third floor art studio
- One LS Lowrie fake sold for £35,000 while Sotheby's demanded a £65,000 refund
A rogue art dealer who conned galleries across Britain with fine art fakes worth £180,000 has been jailed.
Rizvan Rahman sold more than 30 forgeries in an elaborate scam which saw him pass off paintings purportedly by world famous artists including matchstick men painter LS Lowrie.
He sold one Lowrie rip-off for £35,000 and 13 paintings imitating work by Mary Fedden, one of Britain's greatest living artists.
Raham, 40, told galleries that he had been given the paintings by his father or had bought them for his private collection, Leicester Crown Court heard today.
The court was also told that when they were uncovered as fakes he would feign surprise and refund the gallery.
However even after refunds had been taken into account the teacher-turned-fake-dealer was more than £60,000 better off.
Police raided the once respected art teacher's home and third floor studio in the leafy suburb of Stoneygate, Leicester, in December 2009 and seized 19 paintings from a collection of 168.
Gordon Aspden, prosecuting, said: 'Between January 2008 and October 2009, Rahman defrauded galleries and members of the public by selling paintings he falsely claimed were genuine and original works of art.
'His motive was to make money at the expense of innocent purchasers and the amount involved was £179,450.
'When some of the frauds were discovered he would express surprise and refund the gallery involved.
'Taking refunds into account his net profit was at least £61,950.'
He added that 30 fakes had been sold through well known auction houses and respected galleries across Britain.
The 40-year-old kept literature entitled Confessions of a Master Forger and The Art Forger's Handbook at his home - but maintains he didn't paint the fakes himself.
When interviewed by police the married father of three admitted that respected auction house Sothebys was pursuing him for a refund for the sale of a £65,000 George Leslie Hunter work. He was not prosecuted for this.
Mr Aspden added: 'The defendant had been dealing in fake works of art on a significant scale.'
Rahman sold 13 forgeries of work by Mary Fedden, described in court as one Britain's greatest living artists, whose Royal College of Art pupils included a young David Hockney. Now in her 90s, she was shown one of the fakes.
'She was less than impressed by the forger's work, saying it was a very bad painting,' Mr Aspden said.
Owners of galleries all over the country including Cornwall, London and Uppingham, Leicestershire, were initially taken in by the defendant, but soon became suspicious.
Rahman now faces a proceeds of crime hearing to seize his assets and faces losing his home in the affluent area characterised by expensive Victorian properties.
Steven Newcombe, defending, said Rahman repaid most of the cash as soon as there was a complaint.
He set up his art dealing business in 2004 and made many genuine sales adding: 'It wasn't fraudulent from the outset.'
Rahman, who traded under the name of Haslam and Purdy, admitted two counts of fraudulent trading, eight counts of selling false works and two of possessing articles (documents) for use in fraud. He was jailed for 18 months.