A self-proclaimed US pastor has been given a six month jail sentence for attempting to sell fake Damien Hirst spin art paintings. He was arrested after he tried to flog the work to an undercover policeman.
Kevin Sutherland, of the Mosaic Miami Church in Florida, bought five Hirsts on ebay which also included two of his spot paintings. After taking them to Sotheby’s in 2013, where they were turned down, he proposed a fire-sale price to the investigator.
The 46-year-old will now appeal the sentence of six months in jail and five years probation. His lawyer, Sam Talkin, portrayed the crime as “an isolated detour from an otherwise law-abiding life”. But prosecutors argued Sutherland not only tried to rid himself of paintings he knew were forged, but tried to sell them at a profit.
The auction house informed the pastor on 31 January that there had been a problem with the authentication of the Hirst works. Within three hours, he emailed the detective offering him the five works for a total price of $185,000 (£109,844). He assured the officer they were genuine. Sutherland was arrested on 7 February after meeting his contact at the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. “This crime was motivated by greed,” said Rachel Hochhauser, an assistant district attorney. “He did more than try to pass on his financial loss.