Art

Art fraudster who made nearly £500,000 in fake ‘Turner’ painting con is tracked down after 13 years

Art fraudster, 73, who made nearly £500,000 through fake ‘Turner’ painting con is tracked down 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 killed to a year in a US prison but she fled the country
  • The fraudster was arrested in Frankfurt while flying back to her home in Scotland

A British art fraudster who has been on the run for 13 years faces extradition to the US after finally being caught.

Angela Hamblin, 73, is now likely to serve her 12-month sentence in the US for making nearly £500,000 by 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 disappearing.

She is being held in Germany after officials acted on an international arrest warrant when she stopped in Frankfurt on a flight from Vienna to Edinburgh.

After her arrest, the Daily Mail tracked her journey back to the Scottish Borders village of St Boswells, where she had been living quietly.

British art fraudster Angela Hamblin (pictured) was caught in Frankfurt on a flight back to Edinburgh, after 13 years on the run from the US in Frankfurt

British art fraudster Angela Hamblin (pictured) was caught in Frankfurt on a flight back to Edinburgh, after 13 years on the run from the US in Frankfurt

Hamblin would sell fake artworks pretending they were originals from artists such as JMW Turner, Milton Avery and Juan Gris (pictured)

Hamblin would sell fake artworks pretending they were originals from artists such as JMW Turner, Milton Avery and Juan Gris (pictured)

Hamblin tried to sell fake 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 passed off cheap decorative art as works by JMW Turner, Expressionist Franz Kline , landscape artist Milton Avery and Spanish Cubist Juan Gris.

But she was arrested in a sting after US prosecutors were alerted to her activities. The prosecutors said the sale was ‘not by any means an isolated instance’.

They added: ‘She had been carrying out her scheme for years. She continued her fraud relentlessly. After discovering the paintings were fake, buyers would routinely demand their money back.

‘On the few occasions Hamblin did refund money, she would re-sell the painting.’

In court, prosecutors demanded up to 41 months in jail. Hamblin told the judge she turned to fraud because of the financial pressure of paying the mortgage on their home in Revere.

After denying the charges, she eventually pleaded guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one of wire fraud. Wire fraud covers crime using electronic communication such as email and telephone.

In a defense submission, Hamblin’s lawyer said that she appeared before the court a ‘broken and humbled 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 failed to hand herself in that September as ordered.

It is unclear how she managed to get out of the US because she had been forced to hand in her passport.

Locals in St Boswells were shocked to learn that she was a fugitive. Alex Gilham, barman at the nearby Buccleuch Arms, regularly serves the couple.

He said: ‘They are highly eccentric. She’s really outgoing, they’re mad in their own way but they’re really lovely.

‘It doesn’t surprise me that she could have done something unusual, they’re not really the type to have an office job.’

But another resident who asked not to be named said Hamblin was a ‘difficult woman’ adding: ‘She seems to have a great imagination with some of the things she’s told us. She’s very good at name dropping.’

Hamblin’s husband did not comment.

Additional reporting: Rob Hyde in Bremen, Germany

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