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March 20, 2012

Art Fraudster John Drewe Jailed for 8 Years Following Real Estate Fraud Trial in Norwich

Christine Cunningham reported for the Evening News on March 12 that John Drewe, 64, convicted in 1999 of art fraud, was jailed for eight years after his conviction for fraud by the Norwich Crown Court for stealing 240,000 sterling pounds from a retired music teacher in an attempt to steal her home and life savings.  You can read the article here.

Ms. Cunningham writes that the court heard that Drewe had been convicted more than a dozen years ago of "conspiracy to defraud, forgery and theft, involving a major art fraud and was jailed for six years."

Andrew Levy for the Daily Mail reports that Drewe used the stolen money to purchase luxury cars and "to pay off his son's debts":

Drewe had been jailed in 1999 for masterminding one of the biggest art frauds of the century. He made £1.8million by commissioning paintings and passing them off as rediscovered works by major artists.
Using the forgeries made by John Myatt, Drewe sold 200 fake original artworks. John Myatt, who's own website claims Myatt "was involved in the biggest art con in the UK", now sells "legitimate fakes" and claims his life will be the subject of movies and television shows.

Noah Charney wrote about John Drewe's activities in the Fall 2010 Journal of Art Crime in his column Lessons from the History of Art Crime "The Art World Wants to be Deceived: Issues in Authentication and Inauthentication":
John Myatt and John Drewe created false documents to act as provenance for the forged paintings they created, and then inserted them into real archives, so that diligent researchers would "discover" them and link them to the forged paintings.

At ARCA's International Art Crime Conference in Amelia last summer (2011), Peter Watson, author of numerous books including The Medici Conspiracy and Sotheby's the Inside Story, in a discussion titled "Some Unpublished and Unpalatable Details about Recent Art Crimes", said that John Drewe had once been suspected of burning down a house that killed a Hungarian lodger.

If John Drewe serves his full jail sentence, he will be able to pursue other opportunities at the age of 72.