Damien Hirst Fakes: Miami Pastor Accused of Art Fraud

Kevin Sutherland, the Paster of a Miami based church was charged with art fraud, last week, in a New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan. He pleaded not guilty to one single count of second degree attempted larceny. The announcement came from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. who recorded that the defendant had been charged.  The case centres around the attempted sale of five paintings by the British YBA artist Damien Hirst. The prosecution alleges that he was aware that the paintings were fakes. Sutherland attempted to pass off works to an undercover police officer at the Gramercy Park Hotel last January, he was later arrested and freed on a $100,000 bond.

Mr Sutherland had contacted Sotheby’s auction house in New York in December 2012, offering to sell a Hirst “spin” painting valued at between $120,000 and $140,000. He provided a bogus “provenance of the painting’s pedigree. The criminal complaint stated; Hirst’s official authentication service Science Ltd. rejected the painting and the documentation known as a provenance was also a fake, however, according to the court Sutherland again offered to sell the spin painting along with a further spin painting, and three “spot” paintings titled “Valium,” “Opium” and “LSD,” to a private art dealer, who was in fact an undercover detective. Kevin Sutherland is due back in court in the criminal case on April 25.

Damien Hirst was born in Bristol in 1965. He studied at Goldsmiths College in London and first came to public attention in 1988 when he conceived and curated “Freeze,” an exhibition of his work and that of his friends and fellow students at Goldsmiths. In the near quarter century since that pivotal show, Hirst has become one of the most   prominent artists of his generation. Many of his works are widely recognized, from the shark suspended in formaldehyde, The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (1991) and his spot, spin and butterfly paintings, through to later works such as the diamond skull For the Love of God (2007).

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