Antique dealer is sentenced in art fraud
( AP ) - An antique dealer was sentenced Friday to nearly five years in prison for working with his parents to create sophisticated fakes of statues, paintings and other works and passing them off as priceless.
Judge William Morris sentenced Shaun Greenhalgh, 47, of Bolton, to four years and eight months while giving his mother, Olive, 83, a suspended term of 12 months. Greenhalgh's father, George, 84, will be sentenced later.
All three pleaded guilty earlier this year to defrauding art institutions and other buyers over a period of 17 years.
They had also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to launder the proceeds from the sale of a fake Egyptian statuette to the city of Bolton.
The creations made by the Greenhalghs also included Assyrian stone reliefs, a Celtic kilt brooch, and several copies of paintings by American artist Henry Moran.
"It was the most diverse and sustained art forgery case I've ever seen," said Detective Sgt. Vernon Rapley of London's Metropolitan Police.
Detectives said the family found a genuine copy of a catalog detailing the 1892 sale of the contents of Silverton Park, the home of the 4th Earl of Egremont. The family used it to get ideas on what items to fake and, once the items were fabricated, they used the catalog as proof of provenance when presenting their knockoffs for sale.
Shaun Greenhalgh created the fakes, while his parents handled most of the sales.
"Mainly George was the front man," said Detective Constable Ian Lawson. "He looks honest, he's elderly and he shows up in a wheelchair."
The family's biggest sale was the Amarna Princess, a 20.5 inch statuette depicting one of the daughters of Queen Nefertiti, the mother of King Tutankhamun. It was sold for $902,678 to the Bolton Museum in 2003.
Two real Amarna statuettes exist. One is in the Louvre in Paris while the other is at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Philadelphia.
The scheme unraveled when the family presented three Assyrian stone reliefs to the British Museum in 2005. Experts doubted their authenticity, noting the horses' reins were not consistent with other Assyrian reliefs and that there were misspellings in the Cuneiform script inscribed on the work.
The museum notified police.
Detectives said the family made about $3.08 million but did not live lavishly. They had $1.02 million in a bank account.
"There were not living in luxury at all," Detective Constable Halina Racki said. "They were really living in poverty - a very poor, basic lifestyle."