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Broker Indicted for Stealing Millions in Sales of Famous Artworks

An art broker allegedly stole millions of dollars from clients in the sales of paintings by Picasso, Chagall and more.
Image: New York State Supreme COurt
A view of New York State Supreme Court on March 2, 2016 in New York City.Mike Coppola / Getty Images file

An art broker is facing extradition to the U.S. over felony charges after allegedly stealing millions through a valuable art sale scheme involving paintings by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall.

Timothy Sammons, 61, of London, is facing grand larceny and fraud charges after being accused of pocketing proceeds from artwork sales that he brokered for clients at auctions and private sales between 2010 and 2015 for his businesses in New York and London.

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“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,” Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. said.

Sammons repeatedly misled his victims about the timing of the sales and, in some cases, failed to inform them that their artwork had been purchased at all, according to the indictment. He also allegedly told victims to be patient when they inquired about the status of their artwork, as well as ignoring them entirely when they demanded artworks be returned.

In some cases, the art broker allegedly used sale proceeds from artwork owned by one victim to pay debts owed to other victims, according to court documents.

Sammons also allegedly used victims’ artwork as collateral to obtain personal loans from a financing company in New York. When he failed to repay the loans, he allegedly sold artwork at discounted prices.

The famous works that Sammons is accused of profiting off of include Pablo Picasso’s “Buste de Femme,” Marc Chagall’s “Reverie” and Paul Signac’s “Calanque de Canoubiers.”

In total, Sammons stole tens of millions of dollars from victims in the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, according to court documents.

“Not only did victims lose millions of dollars, but many lost valuable pieces of artwork that had been in their families for generations,” Vance said.