Art dealer Jonathan Poole jailed for £500k thefts

  • Published
Jonathan Poole, art dealer
Image caption,
Jonathan Poole was an acclaimed wildlife artist in his own right

A celebrity art dealer stole pieces worth almost £500,000 in a crime compared to a Hollywood blockbuster.

Jonathan Poole, 69, of Poulton, near Cirencester, admitted stealing paintings and selling artworks he was not entitled to.

His crimes were compared to the plot of The Thomas Crown Affair at Gloucester Crown Court, where he was jailed for four years.

The court heard he represented the art estates of John Lennon and Ronnie Wood.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Poole represented the art estates of celebrities including Ronnie Wood

The stolen items included paintings of Princess Diana, Kate Moss, Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Jim Morrison and Bono. Some pieces have never been traced.

The thefts were made over three decades, with the pieces stolen from British collectors, including Dire Straits' bass guitarist John Illsley, and a German art dealer.

Poole, an acclaimed wildlife artist, owned two art galleries in the Cotswolds but they closed after he ran into financial difficulties. He also tried to take his own life, the court heard.

Image caption,
Poole ran two art galleries in the Cotswolds where he specialised in selling portraits of famous musicians

James Ward, prosecuting, said: "He was trusted by the wealthy individual who invested in art.

"He was trusted by the internationally acclaimed celebrities, those household names whose art estates he represented, such as Ronnie Wood, Miles Davis and the legendary John Lennon."

'A gambler'

He went on to dub the case The Jonathan Poole Affair after the Hollywood film The Thomas Crown Affair.

"Whilst Thomas Crown stole as a challenge, because his world had become too stiflingly safe, Jonathan Poole stole either to fund a gambling habit, or to stash away money for later life or to fund a lifestyle he couldn't afford," Mr Ward said.

"Although admitting to the police he was a gambler, the crown shall never know the real motive for him thieving on such a grand scale."

Image source, Sebastian Kruger
Image caption,
One of the stolen paintings by Sebastian Kruger depicted the model Kate Moss

At a previous hearing, Poole admitted 26 charges of theft and fraud between 1986 and 2013. He denied a further 32 similar charges, which were ordered to lie on file.

Judge Michael Cullum said his clients placed a lot of trust in him.

"You were well connected, better than almost anyone, to know what was in your possession and how much it was worth," he said.

"The references placed before me make it absolutely clear that your professional knowledge was undoubted and highly regarded.

"Against that, you were being dishonest in very many aspects of your life."

Image source, Sebastian Kruger
Image caption,
William Burroughs Gunslinger by Sebastian Kruger was another of the stolen paintings

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