Investigation Identifies Major Seller of Fakes on eBay

artnet_faviconAccording to a report in the Telegraph, Geoffrey Spilman, the son of a vicar in Rugby, Warwickshire, is behind the sale of a slew of fake paintings, said to be by artists including LS Lowry, Adrian Heath, and Mary Fedden. Spilman, 48, is churning out three pictures a week and selling them online from his modest flat, for several hundreds of pounds each, according to the report. They come with forged signatures, the report states. In recent months, Spilman has told potential buyers that the works belonged to his late father or were found in a house clearance or art fair, and that, due to a lack of paperwork, could not be guaranteed. In reality, he is suspected of having painted many of the works himself, the report states.

Spilman was arrested by police 18 months ago and given a warning after forging a work by Ashley Jackson, a living artist whose watercolors can fetch up to $67,000 (£40,000) each, and who went to the local fraud squad. Jackson told the Telegraph: “These forgeries have a terrible effect on my reputation. It is unjust that someone can play on my credibility by creating poor imitations in my name.”

Spilman has put up roughly 280 unauthenticated paintings by about 25 artists over the past two years, and has conducted sales under four different eBay identities. Nearly all have sold, typically at prices of more than $1,670 (£1,000) each. The Sunday Telegraph began investigating Spilman after receiving a tip, and was eventually able to trace the anonymous eBay identities to his address. After the Telegraph contacted eBay, the online auctioneer shut down Spilman’s activities and banned him from eBay for life.

A spokesman said: “We have reviewed three accounts and determined that the seller has not lived up to the high standards we expect.”

As artnet News recently reported, several experts have accused another eBay seller of peddling fake works by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat. And Paddle8 and London-based Bloomsbury auction withdrew four suspect Keith Haring works, consigned by a Swedish collector, after artnet News inquired about their provenance.

On Friday, a man was arrested in East Hampton for running a similar fake art racket on eBay (see artnet News report).

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