New York State Supreme Court.

Former Sotheby’s Specialist Arraigned in New York

After being charged on fifteen counts of fraud last June, a former director at Sotheby’s is now heading to jail, according to a report by Brian Boucher at artnet. Timothy Sammons––a solicitor who set up his own art-dealing business in 1995 after serving as head of the auction house’s Chinese art department––is a British citizen but was arraigned in New York State Supreme Court last Friday, where prosecutors called for a sentence of five to fifteen years in prison. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance said the following in a statement regarding the case: “As alleged in the indictment, the defendant used his industry experience to gain the trust of prospective art sellers, then betrayed that trust by pocketing the proceeds of those sales to fund his own lavish lifestyle . . . Not only did victims lose millions of dollars, but many lost valuable pieces of artwork that had been in their families for generations.”

The charges have been upped to multiple counts of grand larceny in the first and second degrees, as well as one count of scheming to defraud in the first degree, all related to Sammons selling works by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, Paul Gauguin, Amedeo Modigliani, and René Magritte on behalf of several clients and pocketing the proceeds. Several of his clients began to file lawsuits in 2015, claiming he failed to remit payments. In response, a UK high court froze all of his accounts—about $9 million in assets—confiscated his passport, and permitted him a $1,500 weekly allowance. The Manhattan DA maintains that between 2010 and 2015, Sammons, who had offices in New York and London, defrauded five victims in the US, the UK, and New Zealand. The accused also allegedly used proceeds from the sale of one victim’s art to pay other clients and put up art that did not belong to him as collateral in order to obtain personal loans.

Glenn Hardy, Sammons’s attorney, asked the judge on Friday to allow Sammons to post bail, claiming it would be very complicated to compile the records necessary to mount his defense if he were sent to jail. The attorney also argued that Sammons—whose passport has been seized and who voluntarily turned himself in to US marshals—was not a flight risk, while pointing out that when his client was living in the UK after being released on bail there, he had submitted willingly to restrictions on his travel imposed by the UK’s Insolvency Service and that those conditions had gradually been eased due to his compliance. The US judge declined to set bail, though, and Sammons was taken into police custody after the arraignment. His next court date has been scheduled for November 6.