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Prolific forger Mumford jailed for two years after massive fraud

08 May 2012Written by ATG Reporter

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.

1000 Forgeries

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.

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