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Art Dealer Stole Millions Through Sales of Picasso, Chagall Pieces, DA Says

By Ben Fractenberg | October 23, 2017 9:20am
 Art dealer Timothy Sammons was arraigned in New York Supreme Court on charges he pocketed millions in fraudulent sales of famous artwork, including “Buste de Femme” by Pablo Picasso, Oct. 20, 2017.
Art dealer Timothy Sammons was arraigned in New York Supreme Court on charges he pocketed millions in fraudulent sales of famous artwork, including “Buste de Femme” by Pablo Picasso, Oct. 20, 2017.
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Pool/Alec Tabak for New York Daily News

CIVIC CENTER — A transatlantic art dealer was charged Friday with selling multimillion-dollar works of art — including Pablo Picasso's "Buste de Femme" — then stiffing the original owners out of the proceeds. 

The dodgy art dealer, Timothy Sammons, 61, was ushered into New York Supreme Court in a three-piece suit and handcuffs Friday afternoon after being extradited from London to face grand larceny and fraud charges. 

“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,” said District Attorney Cyrus Vance in a statement.

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

Sammons sold multiple pieces between 2010 and 2015 — including “Reverie” by Marc Chagall and “Calanque de Canoubier” by Paul Signac — without informing the owners that the works had sold and in some cases using the art as collateral to get personal loans from New York financing company, prosecutors said.

Christie's auction house priced the Picasso at more than $67 million.

Sammons had also been sued by multiple clients and was facing bankruptcy in England, his lawyer said, adding that he fully cooperated with authorities in being extradited. 

"Mr. Sammons understands the seriousness of this case," attorney Glenn Hardy told Judge Felicia Mennin while requesting bail. "[He's] doing everything he is supposed to be doing." 

Mennin then held Sammons without bail. He is due back in court on Nov. 6.