Forger William Mumford jailed for bogus paintings
- 3 May 2012
- From the section London
A forger who created up to 1,000 bogus paintings - selling many to unsuspecting buyers - has been jailed for two years.
William 'Billy' Mumford, 63, copied artists including Sayed Haider Raza, Welsh landscape painter Kyffin Williams and surrealist John Tunnard.
Mumford, of East Preston, West Sussex, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court.
He had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud over the five-year scam.
The plot was identified in 2009 after police were contacted by a London auction house which had been offered an unusually high number of paintings purporting to be by Maqbool Fida Husain - called "the Picasso of India".
When they raided Mumford's home they found hundreds of paintings and false instruments.
Fakes 'in circulation'
Also discovered were gallery stamps, ink pads and Victorian paper used to create a false provenance to dupe art experts.
A band of co-conspirators placed the works for sale on Ebay and at auction houses throughout the UK, receiving a 20% cut, the police spokesman explained.
Some of the works ended up being sold on as genuine several times for up to £30,000, with police believing hundreds remain in circulation.
Det Con Michelle Roycroft, formerly of the arts and antiques unit, said: "This complicated case highlights the pitfalls of buying works of art from online auction sites.
"These paintings, listed as 'unknown', came with elaborate false provenance that drew buyers into bidding for the items.
"This, together with William Mumford's execution of the paintings and the attention to detail fooled hundreds of people both in the UK and worldwide with victims in France, USA and Canada."
A police spokesman gave the following sentences for Mumford's co-conspirators:
- His wife Daphne, 62, who admitted money laundering, was given a one year jail term, suspended for two years.
- Martin Petrskovsky, 35, of Wick, Littlehampton, West Sussex, who admitted conspiracy to defraud, was jailed for 21 months.
- Mr Petrskovsky's wife Karen Petrskovsky, 25, who also admitted conspiracy to defraud, was given a one year jail term, suspended for two years.
- Anthony Resse, 24, of Littlehampton, West Sussex, who admitted conspiracy to defraud, was jailed for a year, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 200 hours' unpaid work.
- Paul Shepherd, 41, of Worthing, West Sussex, who admitted fraud by false representation, was jailed for a year, suspended for two years and ordered to do 100 hours' unpaid work.