One of the UK’s most prolific and accomplished art fraudsters has been jailed for two years after admitting he created up to 1000 forgeries.
William 'Billy' Mumford, 63, was sentenced
at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, May 3, and his wife Daphne,
62, and four others, including a second married couple, were also
sentenced for their part in the fraud.
The forged works imitated a range of artists
including Francis Newton Souza, Sayed Haider Raza, Jilali
Gharbaoui, Sadanand Bakre, Maqbool Fida Husain, Welsh landscape
painter Kyffin Williams, and English surrealist and modernist
artist John Tunnard.
It is believed the paintings have been
released onto the UK market over a five-year period.
Operation Sketch - led by the Metropolitan
Police Art and Antiques Unit, supported by ArtBeat Special
Constables - identified the scam in April 2009 after they were
contacted by a major London auction house which had identified an
unusually high number of Husain paintings offered for sale.
Hundreds of paintings and false instruments
were found in the back bedroom and garage of Mumford's home address
in East Preston, West Sussex, including gallery stamps, ink pads
and Victorian paper used to create a false provenance.
William Mumford admitted creating up to 1000
forgeries and conspiracy to deceive potential buyers and launder
the proceeds of the crimes. His co-conspirators placed the works
for sale on eBay and at auction houses throughout the UK, receiving
a 20% cut for their efforts. Many of the paintings ended up abroad,
some being sold on as genuine several times.
Detectives have located 40 of the paintings which were sold by
the group, but believe there are potentially hundreds more in
circulation. Inquiries revealed some of the paintings had been sold
on for up to £30,000.