Art dealer jailed in US for fraud

UK art dealer jailed in US for fraud

A prominent UK art dealer has been sentenced for up to 12 years in jail in the United States after defrauding clients of up to $30 million.

Timonthy Sammons, who left Sotheby's in 2005 to start his own art consultancy business, used art he had sold for clients as collateral for personal loans, a New York court heard.

Sammons was extradited to the US to face the charges against him, which revolved around the sale of high-priced paintings by artists such as Picasso and Chagall, the proceeds then became part of what prosecutors claimed was a giant Ponzi scheme. Other funds raised were used to sustain Sammon's lifestyle of first class air travel, expensive private club memberships and American Express card payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars. When asked where the money was, the court was told Sammons either asked clients to be patient or ignored them.

Before sentencing, Sammons said he was 'extremely sorry' for the trouble he has caused people. He pleaded guilty in July to 15 counts of grand larceny and fraud. Sammons' victims were in New York, London and New Zealand.

Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, said: "When brokering the sales of high-priced, one-of-a-kind paintings, Timothy Sammons had lying, scamming, and stealing down to a fine art." The judge, Justice Ann Scherzer, told Sammons: "The emotional harm and financial harm done to the victims of this crime is very serious." He is expected to be deported back to the UK on his release from jail.

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