Australia

Two men copied famous artworks and sold them for millions

Two men hid out in a Melbourne studio, painting exact replicas of Brett Whiteley’s paintings and then sold them for millions of pounds. Art restorer Mohamed Aman Siddique and dealer Peter Gant were found guilty in May on charges of obtaining and attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception over the fakes.

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Peter Gant at the Supreme Court in Melbourne, during the Whiteley fake art court case (Stuart McEvoy for The Australian)

Barristers said at a pre-sentence hearing that Gant would never work in the industry again because of extra punishment he suffered due to publicity around the trial. Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham fell victim to the art fraud and bought a fake of Whiteley’s Big Blue Lavender Bay painting, which he thought was an original, for £1.5 million. The men also replicated Orange Lavender Bay and sold it for £600,000 and they were gearing up to sell a third, Through the Window, for almost £500,000.

The pair face the possibility of a maximum ten year prison sentence and have flagged their plans to appeal.

The hearing continues.

Wendy Whiteley: 'It's definitely a fake'

The widow of renowned Australian artist Brett Whiteley didn’t tell Sydney Swans chairman and investment banker Andrew Pridham he had a huge $2.5 million fake hanging on his wall because she wanted to be sure before she broke the bad news.

But when she was shown a second painting attributed to Whiteley, Orange Lavender Bay, in the back of a truck by an art dealer at her Lavender Bay home in 2009, she was adamant.

It’s a fake, it’s definitely a fake,” was Wendy Whiteley’s response, she told the Supreme Court of Victoria on Friday, in Australia’s biggest alleged art fraud case.

Fake Brett Whiteley paintings sold for more than $3.6 million

Two men created and sold fake paintings by famous Australian artist Brett Whiteley for more than AUS$3.6 million, a court has heard.

Supreme Court Justice Michael Croucher, when outlining the Crown case to the jury on Monday against art dealer Peter Gant and fine art restorer Mohamed Aman Siddique, said the pair had allegedly been involved in a joint criminal enterprise.

Justice Croucher said Mr Siddique was accused of creating three paintings – Big Blue Lavender Bay, Orange Lavender Bay and Through the Window – in the style of Brett Whiteley, who died in 1992.

Hindus urge Sydney Art Gallery to return Durga statue if found illegal

Hindus are urging the Art Gallery of NSW (AGNSW) in Sydney to expedite the provenance of its Hindu goddess Durga statue, and if proved stolen, return it to Hindu temple it originally belonged.

According to reports, among AGNSW collections, a 140 cm tall early 10th century red sandstone statue of goddess Durga slaying the buffalo demon Mahisha is under scrutiny and it may have been illegally obtained.