Art Market

A British art dealer who swindled clients out of millions faces up to 12 years in prison.

Kelsey Ables
Jul 31, 2019 5:14PM, via New York Daily News

A Marc Chagall painting, Reverie, sold by Timothy Sammons. Photo courtesy Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.

British art dealer Timothy Sammons will face 4 to 12 years in prison after stealing tens of millions of dollars from clients through his Upper East Side dealership, Timothy Sammons Fine Art Agents. The 63-year-old, who misled clients about how much works by high-profile artists like Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and René Magritte sold for (sometimes not telling clients they sold at all), pleaded guilty to fraud and grand larceny, among other criminal counts on July 2nd. He was sentenced in New York State court on Tuesday.

By some estimates, Sammons amassed up to $30 million between 2010 and 2015, swindling clients around the world. Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. alleged Sammons used the funds to sponsor a luxury lifestyle, purchasing first-class plane tickets and expensive memberships to private clubs. Sammons’s defense attorney, David Touger, asserted that the money was only used for business purposes.

Vance said Sammons spent years maliciously gaining the trust of prospective buyers and sellers only to defraud them. “When brokering the sales of high-priced, one-of-a-kind paintings, Timothy Sammons had lying, scamming, and stealing down to a fine art,” Vance said in a statement.

According to the indictment, the works involved in Sammons’s shady business dealings included Picasso’s Buste de Femme and Chagall’s Reverie, and Paul Signac’s Calanque de Canoubier (Pointe de Bamer).

Sammons, who used to work at Sotheby’s and was arrested in 2017, is expected to be deported to the U.K. after his release. After the sentencing, Touger told artnet News that Sammons “looks forward to getting out of jail and re-establishing his name and paying back his customers.”

Kelsey Ables