Fugitive Australian Art Swindler Caught

Posted on February 6, 2012


Australian art seller Ronald Coles abruptly closed his shop, declared bankruptcy, and disappeared two years ago.

After a massive police investigation, Coles has been located, arrested, and charged with 87 offenses as a result of his alleged investment art fraud scheme. Forty three of Coles’ clients claim he swindled them, some unknowingly purchasing forged artwork from the Ronald Coles Investment Gallery, or later realizing did not take full title to their purchases as believed.

Coles sold works by famous Australian artists like Norman Lindsay, Arthur Streeton, and Eugene von Guerard. Many of these paintings were complete fakes. Artists Ken Knight and David Boyd even found some of their own works in 400 some paintings retrieved from the gallery in a 2009 raid, but instead of their names written on the painting they found others like Arthur Streeton. All that was needed to multiply the value of each painting from $3,500 to $500,000 was a false attribution and a tad of aging varnish on top.

Read the full article On-the Lam Gallerist Arrested for the Biggest Art Swindle in Australian History.

Thanks to Kristina Bauer for her assistance with this post.

Posted in: Archaeology Law