...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.
Pictures snapped by an 18-year-old photographer at The Beatles' first US concert have sold in the saleroom for £225,000.
The 50 silver gelatin prints all sold individually and had been estimated to make $100,000 (£62,000).
Photographer Mike Mitchell took the snaps at the Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964, two days after their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show on television.
Among the highlights is a backlit shot of the band that he took while standing directly behind them.
It sold for $68,500 (£42,500), although it was expected to fetch less than $3,000 (£1,800).
Cathy Elkies, Christie's director of iconic collections, said she expected the bids to exceed the pre-sale estimates.
"Beatles fans are fierce. To uncover this trove of images that's never been published will really excite people," she said.
In a recent interview, Mitchell described the rollicking scene at the Washington indoor arena not only of screaming fans but also of his unrestricted access.
"It was a long time ago. Things were that way then," said the 65-year-old, who now works as an art photographer in Washington.
"It was as low-tech as the concert itself. The concert was in a sports venue and the sound system was the sound system of a sports venue."
Mitchell stored the negatives for years in a box in his basement.
He used digital technology to scan and restore the prints for the auction.
The scooter used for Be Somewhere Else Now is going up for sale alongside a 1959 Lambretta... a scooter used by British band Oasis for the front and back cover of a CD will be sold at Boldon Auction Galleries in South Tyneside. The CD in question was Be Somewhere Else Now.
It previously belonged to antique dealer and motorbike enthusiast Louise Bennett. She had a passion for restoring old machines, but sadly died aged just 46.
The vehicle carries an estimate of just £400-600, which seems surprisingly low key. The CD in question is not their most famous, but given that Oasis memorabilia has been increasing in value in recent times it seems like a bargain as an alternative investment.
Memorabilia used on album covers can be very valuable. Famously the drumskin used on the album sleeve of the Beatles' Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band sold for $1.1m in 2009.
Of course that album is groundbreaking, and Oasis aren't the Beatles (even if they were once accused of being a Beatles tribute band).
Perhaps more intriguing to collectors of classic motorbikes in general will be another vehicle in the sale: a 1959 Lambretta 148cc scooter.
Discovered in the 1990s, the motorbike was found in the house of a hoarder in Gateshead. The property's owner had had to move to another property because he had too many things in the house to move around it.
The Lambretta is expected to sell for £2,500-£3,500 ($5,600).
Jackpot for house clearer as judge rules he can keep rare tapestries worth £2MILLION he found hidden in bedside cabinet
A house clearer has won a lengthy legal battle to keep two medieval tapestries worth up to £2million after finding them at the home of a dead millionairess.
Ian Spencer had paid the lawyers of Judy Keele £5,000 to clear out her flat in Mayfair on the agreement that he could keep what he found.
Mr Spencer found the two 17in by 12in tapestries – which both depict a castle in silver and gold with a crowned figure at the top – in a folded blanket stuffed in an Edwardian bedside cabinet.
Experts initially told Mr Spencer, who is in his 40s, the works were from the 19th century. He accepted an offer of £400 for them, but the deal never went through.
Jackpot for house clearer as judge rules he can keep rare tapestries worth £2MILLION he found hidden in bedside cabinet
It wasn’t until he took them to Simon Franses, a specialist in historical textiles, that they were dated as 14th century. It is believed they would have hung in a royal palace in Germany or Poland, making them worth about £2million.
Mr Franses arranged with Mr Spencer to research them and sell them on the understanding he would keep 30 per cent of the price.
But after the expert had worked on the tapestries for two years, the pair fell out and he refused to return them to Mr Spencer until his work, which he valued at £93,000, had been paid for.
He also questioned whether the house clearer was the legal owner.
Mr Spencer then sued Mr Franses to try to get them back.
Now – six years later – a High Court judge has ruled that the house clearer is the rightful owner.
It is thought he will now sell the tapestries after Mrs Justice Thirlwall ordered him to pay the art specialist’s fees and legal costs of about £300,000.
Mrs Keele, who lived mainly in New York, fell ill in 1997 and instructed lawyer Diahn McGrath to clear out the London flat she kept in Mayfair. She died the following year, aged 91, with no one to inherit her estate.
Mrs Justice Thirlwall said: ‘So far as Mrs McGrath was concerned the auctioneers had taken everything of value. She was quite wrong. Mr Franses says that it was immediately apparent to him the embroideries were “unique and exceptional”. [He] has described them as potentially a national treasure.’
Mr Franses said yesterday he was relieved the case was over. Mr Spencer, from Chelsea, did not comment.
Source : Daily Mail online
The Shroud of Turin was made by medieval artist Giotto, it was claimed yesterday.
The 14ft length of fabric, said to be the burial cloth of Christ, bears a faint image of a man and appears to be stained by blood.
However carbon-dating tests have suggested it was produced between 1260 and 1390.
Now Italian art expert Luciano Buso has suggested that the original cloth deteriorated and Giotto was asked to make a copy.
After months of careful examination of photographs of the Shroud - the relic is kept locked away and not available to be viewed unless on special occasions - Luciano Buso has come up with an idea worthy of a Da Vinci Code thriller.
He says that several veiled appearances of the number 15, hidden in the fabric by the artist, indicate Giotto created the Shroud in 1315 - and that it is a copy of the original which had been damaged and was then lost over the centuries.
Giotto was perhaps the best known artist of his time and was made famous for his decoration of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua, the fresco that depicts the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ.
Mr Buso insists that 700 years ago it was common practice for artists to insert partial dates into their works so as to guarantee their authenticity and it was known only to a handful of people so as to avoid forgeries.
His claims, which form part of a new book he has written, would coincide with 1980's carbon dating - which has been dismissed by the Church - and which puts the Shroud's origins in the early 14th century.
e wasn't trying to fake anything, which is clear from the fact that he signed it ''Giotto 15'', to authenticate it as his own work from 1315. This was not a fake he was asked to make a copy of the original one.
No-one at Turin Cathedral where the Shroud is kept was available for comment but Professor Bruno Barberis, director of the Shroud Museum, said: 'I think the theory is ridiculous.
'His claim that Giotto made the Shroud are not very convincing to me and as far as we are concerned it was not made by an artistic method. Many people claim to have seen Greek and Hebrew writing in the Shroud but it's never been proven.
'We believe that the image on the Shroud was made by the body of a man who was tortured and then crucified - however there are still many tests that need to be carried out to prove one way or another what it's origins are.'
Last year Pope Benedict spent several minutes kneeling in front of the linen cloth, after it went on display for only the fifth time in 100 years and he was one of two million people who saw it during a six week viewing.
The Shroud has captivated the imagination of historians, church elders, sceptics and Catholics for more than 500 years.
Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was obsessed by it and wanted to steal it so he could use it in a black magic ceremony, a monk revealed for the first time last year.
The 14ft-long Shroud bears the faint image of the front and back of a tall, long-haired, bearded man and appears to be stained by blood from wounds in his feet, wrists and side.
Originally the Vatican had intended for the Shroud's next display to be 2025 but in 2009 Pope Benedict announced it would be brought forward 15 years.
For centuries debate has raged whether the image is that of Christ or an expert forgery from the Middle Ages but what is certain is that experts have never really been able to explain how the image was made.
Carbon-dating tests were conducted on the cloth in 1988 and suggested it was from between 1260 and 1390, other scientists have since claimed that contamination over the ages, from water damage and fire, were not taken sufficiently into account and could have distorted the results.
As a result of controversy and the fact that dating techniques have improved significantly since the 1988 tests were done, there have been numerous calls for further testing but the Vatican has always refused.
The Shroud was given to the Turin archbishop in 1578 by the Duke of Savoy and has been kept in the Cathedral ever since.
An Andy Warhol portrait of Blondie star Debbie Harry is expected to fetch up to £5.5 million when it is auctioned at Sotheby's in London later this month.
The 1980 work will go under the hammer on 29 June as part of a two-day auction of contemporary art.
The event will also feature works from the collection of Dave Stewart, better known as one half of the Eurythmics.
Among the seven pieces up for grabs is an early spot painting by Damien Hirst dedicated to the British musician.
According to Sotheby's Cheyenne Westphal, the Harry portrait is "the ultimate culmination of Warhol's exploration of our public fascination with female cultural icons".
Made up of five silkscreened layers of ink over a coloured acrylic ground, the portrait was made at the height of Blondie's international fame.
Dantrolene (Being God for Dave) by Damien Hirst is expected to fetch up to £800,000 when it is put up for sale on 29 and 30 June.
Works by Gilbert & George and Cindy Sherman also form part of Stewart's collection, expected to sell for more than £1.3 million.
Last month a Warhol self-portrait from the early 1960s fetched $38.4m (£23.5m) at an auction in New York.
Sixteen Jackies - a 1964 print featuring various images of former US first lady Jackie Kennedy - sold for just over $20m (£12m) at a separate sale held the same week.
Source BBC Website
Asia’s wealthiest collectors, once again, refused to pay exorbitant prices for the world’s most prized Chinese antiques.
Auction house Christie’s was unable to sell a 240 million Hong Kong dollar (US$31 million), 18th-century revolving vase – which Christie’s hoped would set a new standard in prices for Chinese antiquities – at its sale on Wednesday. The non-sale follows Sotheby’s failed sale of its top lot, a HK$180 million Falangcai vase, at a Hong Kong auction in April.
This time, the item up for grabs was a Qianglong period (1736-1795) vase featuring an interior sleeve that rotates within the exterior shell of the vase. The vase was the last, yet most anticipated, lot in a session of morning sales that drew a packed room of mostly mainland Chinese buyers. After a couple minutes of bidding, the high bid stalled at HK$190 million, prompting many to applaud, thinking it had sold at that price. But because it failed to hit the HK$240 million threshold, also known as the reserve price, the vase remained unsold. (Prices quoted don’t include the buyer’s premium charged by the auction house.)
Another high-priced lot, a “Dragon and Clouds” screen made of rosewood and featuring fine carving and painting, also failed to sell, as bids stopped short of its HK$100 million reserve price.
Christie’s officials were quick to downplay the failed sales.
“I didn’t think the prices were overly aggressive,” said Pola Antebi, head of Chinese ceramics and works of art for Christie’s in Hong Kong.
“Overall, most of the lots sold,” she said, adding that the majority of items under the HK$20 million to HK$30 million price point sold in the high end of their estimates. “Just those lots at the higher range [didn’t sell]. I think the market is still very strong…. But at the very top of the market, there are still very few people in it.”
She was optimistic that the revolving vase may still sell privately outside the auction room, saying that “people expressed interest after the sale.”
Indeed, after Sotheby’s failed sale of its prized Qing Dynasty vase in April, the auction house said it sold privately for HK$200 million. But overall, Sotheby’s sale of Chinese ceramics failed to crack its presale estimate of HK$940 million, and the results prompted some, including bubble-watching Yale professor Vikram Mansharamani, to speculate that the Chinese antiques market has peaked and is poised for a sharp decline.
Source : blogs.wsj.com
Chaplin’s lost war film: After it was bought for £3.20 on eBay, silent footage may be worth £100,000
It was a battered old film tin for sale on eBay for £3.20, and buyer Morace Park bought it simply because he liked the look of it.
Now, however, its contents have become part of movie history.
Inside the tin was a previously unknown Charlie Chaplin silent film made in 1916, a discovery which has astonished film experts across the world.
Entitled Zepped, it features unseen footage of a German Zeppelin airship over England in the First World War, as well as special effects techniques that would not become commonplace for another decade.
The seven-minute film, which is expected to make £100,000 at auction next month, was propaganda designed to defuse fear of Zeppelin raids which had brought death and destruction throughout 1915.
The 35mm film starts with Chaplin wishing he could return from America and fight alongside British soldiers.
In images seen here for the first time, he sits down to read a newspaper story about a Zeppelin being taken down, and then falls asleep.
In his dream, a Zeppelin hovers over the English countryside. Chaplin flies through the skies before landing on a church spire in England, and saving a damsel along the way.
The film features the only known footage of a Zeppelin raid over London, although the experts are divided on whether it is real or clever puppetry. It also features early experiments with animation, including the face of Kaiser Wilhelm emerging from a German sausage.
Mr Park, a company director from Essex, bought the film tin in 2009 from an anonymous vendor selling ‘loads of junk, probably from a house clearance or car boot sale’.
After unrolling the 900ft film to find the title, he tried to look it up but drew a blank.
Mr Park said: ‘They were dumbfounded. We spoke to every leading expert on rare films and Chaplin and no one had heard about it.’
Dr Michael Hammond, lecturer in film at Southampton University, said: ‘This is a watershed moment in film history.’
The film will be auctioned by Bonhams on June 29 and the documentary, The Rarest Film In The World?, will be released later this year.
With the help of neighbour John Dyer, former head of education at the British Board of Film Classification, he began a quest to solve the mystery, which will feature in a documentary.
They travelled to the studios in California where the film was shot, Chaplin’s home in Switzerland, an archive of rare films in Italy, and to visit the world’s foremost Zeppelin expert in Germany, as well as film buffs from London to Hollywood.
Source: Daily Mail Website
A detailed plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the sinking of the ship in 1912 is to be auctioned in Wiltshire.
The 33ft (10m) cross-section was commissioned by the British Board of Trade to assist in the 36-day inquiry.
The plan hung in the hearing room throughout proceedings and is marked in chalk to indicate where the iceberg is thought to have struck the liner.
Valued at £100,000, the plan will be auctioned on 28 May in Devizes.
The hand-drawn plan of the Titanic was prepared by White Star Line architects for the 1912 British inquiry into the sinking of the ship, just weeks after the disaster.
It allowed the 96 witnesses called to testify to indicate various parts of the ship using a pointer.
After the inquiry concluded that the loss of the ship had been brought about by "excessive speed", the unique plan was returned to White Star.
Since then it has been in private hands and, according to auctioneers Henry Aldridge & Son, not been put on public display.
In April, ahead of the auction, the plan was placed in view for the first time in a century.
It was the centrepiece of an exhibition at Belfast City Hall to mark the centenary of the ship's launch.
"We had over 10,000 viewers in Belfast over three days," said auctioneer Andrew Aldridge.
"It's attracting a lot of interest - one expert has said it's the Holy Grail of Titanic memorabilia."
In 2007 the keys and chain of the postmaster of the Titanic mail room made £101,000, a record amount for Henry Aldridge & Son.
The Titanic inquiry plan is expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000.
Source: BBC News Website
The walnut humidor was discovered gathering dust on a bedroom cabinet in the Merseyside home of Hilary Mee.
It was spotted by auctioneer John Crane when he was invited to value a number of antiques.
Ms Mee said she had no idea the item was connected to the ill-fated vessel, even though it had been lying around her home for 20 years.
The box carries the distinctive emblem of the White Star Line shipping company and bears the initials of the master of the passenger liner, Edward John Smith, who was from Stoke-on-Trent.
At first Mr Crane could not work out what the initials stood for but he said a tingle went down his spine when he realised it belonged to the ship's captain.
Ms Mee said the box had been in her family for several generations. It is thought to have been given to her father by relatives of Edward John Smith's widow, Sarah.
The box is lined with camphor wood and was designed to hold 40 of the finest Havana cigars.
The RMS Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912.
Source: BBC News Website