Jail for art dealer in fraudulent Hirst print scam
Richard Silver, a part time New York art dealer, who purchased $40,000 worth of fake Damien Hirst prints in 2006 from an ebay seller, in Irvine, Calif, has been sentenced to 60 days in jail for falsifying records and appraisals for a series of fake Damien Hirst spot prints. The sentencing took place on Tuesday in Manhattan. He has also paid $84,000 in restitution to the victims of the fraud. The 44-year-old real estate broker, photographer and part-time art dealer pleaded guilty to the misdemeanour of forgery and false-filing charges. His defense lawyer Vinoo Varghese said; ‘ Silver altered legitimate appraisals for some prints to match other works so he could ship them quickly’. He also admitted he didn’t report the sale profits on state taxes.
He pleaded guilty to forging art appraisal documents last week. In 2008, the California man who sold Mr. Silver the prints was arrested and charged with selling the fake works. Mr. Varghese said his client was awarded about $30,000 in restitution stemming from the fraud but has received less than $2,000. The lawyer also stated in court that his client; “didn’t know the prints were fake until after he’d sold them” He conveniently doubled his money in the deal.The lawyer claimed that Silver had some of the works appraised to get a shipping insurance quote and altered the appraisal documents to match the prints so that he could ship them quickly. He stated that Silver didn’t intend to defraud the purchasers of the prints. The art dealer pleaded guilty on Thursday to misdemeanor forgery and false tax filing charges. He also admitted not reporting profits on his state taxes. He’s expected to be sentenced next week to 60 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution.
Silver sold the pieces to buyers in Great Britain and Canada. A law-enforcement official backed up the defences argument that it was unclear whether Mr. Silver knew the prints from the “LSD,” “Opium” and “Valium” series were fakes. They came with purported certificates of authenticity when he bought them on eBay. Mr Silver is a licensed real-estate broker who collects art and sells his own original photography as a hobby, his attorney said.
Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, University of London from 1986 to 1989 and is considered by many to be the leading figure of the group known as “Young British Artists”. The YBAs are characterized by their entrepreneurial spirit, independence and their ability to manipulate the media.Hirst dominated the art scene in Britain during the 1990s. His early career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, however over the last few years Hirst has distanced himself from this association. Hirst’s work explores the uncertainty at the core of human experience; love, life, death, loyalty and betrayal. His work has been exhibited widely,in Britain, the USA, Australia, and Europe. Work is included in many public and private collections. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 1995
Silver is expected to be sentenced next week to 60 days in jail and ordered to pay restitution.