Timothy Sammons, 63, a former art sales agent operating in New York and London, was sentenced to four to 12 years in prison for stealing at least $10 million through a criminal scheme involving the sale of valuable artwork.
On July 2 Sammons pleaded guilty to all 15 counts in the New York State Supreme Court indictment against him, including grand larceny in the first and second degrees and scheme to defraud in the first degree.
“When brokering the sales of high-priced, one-of-a-kind paintings, Timothy Sammons had lying, scamming, and stealing down to a fine art,” said Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in a press release. “For years, the defendant peddled a deceitful, money-spinning scheme, garnering the trust of prospective buyers and sellers only to defraud them of millions and use the ill-gotten gains to fund his lavish lifestyle.”
According to court documents, between 2010 and 2015 Sammons brokered the sale of multiple pieces of art on behalf of his clients at auctions and private sales but failed to turn over the corresponding proceeds of those sales to the owners. In many cases, Sammons misled his victims about the timing of the sales or failed entirely to inform them that their artwork had been purchased. When victims inquired about the status of their artwork, Sammons responded by asking them to be patient or ignored them entirely. In some instances, Sammons used the proceeds from the sale of artwork owned by one victim to pay debts owed to other victims.
Sammons also used victims’ artwork as collateral to obtain personal loans from a financing company based in New York, and when he failed to repay these debts, many of the works were sold at discounted prices. Sammons used the proceeds of the sales of the art for personal expenses, including first-class travel, hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments to his American Express card, and expensive private club memberships.
In total, Sammons stole between $10 and $30 million from more than four victims in the U.S., U.K., and New Zealand through the scheme, which involved multiple pieces of famous art, including Buste de Femme by Pablo Picasso, Reverie by Marc Chagall, and Calanque de Canoubiers (Pointe de Bamer) by Paul Signac, as well as works by Luciano Fontana, René Magritte, and Giorgio Morandi, among many others.
Originally published in the September 2019 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2019 Maine Antique Digest