Art fraudster who won nearly £500,000 in fake ‘Turner’ painting scam is found after 13 years
Art fraudster, 73, who made nearly £500,000 from fake ‘Turner’ painting scam is found after 13 years on the run and now faces extradition to US
- Angela Hamblin, 73, faces extradition from Germany for selling fake paintings
- In 2009, she was sentenced to a year in prison in the United States, but she fled the country
- Fraudster was arrested in Frankfurt on her way home to Scotland
A British art fraudster who has been on the run for 13 years faces extradition to the US after he is finally arrested.
Angela Hamblin, 73, is now likely to serve her 12-month sentence in the US for earning nearly £500,000 passing off fake paintings as being by Turner and other artists.
She pleaded guilty in New York in 2009 but became a wanted woman after she disappeared.
She is being held in Germany after officials acted under an international arrest warrant when she stopped in Frankfurt on a flight from Vienna to Edinburgh.
After her arrest, the Daily Mail traced her journey to the Scottish Borders village of St Boswells, where she lived quietly.
British art fraudster Angela Hamblin (pictured) was arrested in Frankfurt on a flight back to Edinburgh, after 13 years on the run from the US to Frankfurt
Hamblin is said to be selling fake artworks claiming they are originals by artists including JMW Turner, Milton Avery and Juan Gris (pictured)
Hamblin attempted to sell counterfeit art privately and on eBay when she and her husband, a professor at one of America’s Ivy League universities, lived in Revere, Massachusetts in 2007. She made pass the cheap decorative art for works by JMW Turner, the expressionist Franz Kline. , the landscape painter Milton Avery and the Spanish cubist Juan Gris.
But she was arrested in a sting after US prosecutors were alerted to her activities. Prosecutors said the sale was “by no means an isolated incident.”
They added: “She had been carrying out her plan for years. She continued her fraud relentlessly. After discovering that the paintings were fake, buyers regularly demanded their money back.
“The few times Hamblin would refund money, she would resell the painting.”
In court, prosecutors requested up to 41 months in prison. Hamblin told the judge she turned to fraud because of the financial strain of paying the mortgage on their house in Revere.
After denying the charges, she eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud. Wire fraud covers crimes using electronic communications such as email and telephone.
In a defense brief, Hamblin’s attorney said she appeared in court as a “broken and humiliated woman” and that the case was a “nightmare from which she cannot wake.”
She was present for her sentencing in July 2009 when she was jailed for a year and a day, but did not turn up in September as ordered.
It is unclear how she managed to get out of the United States because she was forced to surrender her passport.
The people of St Boswells were shocked to learn she was a fugitive. Alex Gilham, bartender at the nearby Buccleuch Arms, regularly serves the couple.
He said: “They are very eccentric. She’s really outgoing, they’re crazy in their own way but they’re really adorable.
“It doesn’t surprise me that she could have done anything unusual, they’re not really the type to have a desk job.”
But another resident who asked not to be named said Hamblin was a ‘difficult woman’ adding: ‘She seems to have a big imagination with some of the things she told us. She’s very good at dropping names.
Hamblin’s husband had no comment.
Additional reporting: Rob Hyde in Bremen, Germany