Aleksander Ribnikov of Feltham pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation at Isleworth Crown Court last week after trying to sell antiquities through TimeLine Auctions and Christie’s. He is due to be sentenced on September 29.
The first fraud was committed against TimeLine in November last year when he brought a Greek libation bowl, known as a patera, to the firm in Essex. He produced a provenance document which purported to show that he had purchased the patera in 1987 from a man in Swansea, and the item was accepted to be offered for auction as a 4th or 5th century BC object with an estimate of £80,000-100,000.
However, enquiries by the Met's Art and Antiques Unit proved the provenance document was fake as the alleged seller did not exist and the document had been written in a Poundland notebook which had only been produced after 2013.
Prior to his attempts with TimeLine, Ribnikov contacted Christie's in April 2016 to sell a number of antiquities using false provenance documents. But the auction house did not agree to sell any of the items because the papers were faked.
He was investigated by the Art and Antiques Unit, prior to the squad’s temporary closure this summer, and was brought to court last week.
DC Sophie Hayes, from the unit, said: "Ribnikov was a determined fraudster trying to sell high-value antiquities through UK auction houses without legitimate provenance documents. Thankfully he was stopped before these items were sold to unsuspecting buyers."