Art dealer sentenced for selling counterfeits
By Todd Ruger
Published: Friday, February 20, 2009 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, February 20, 2009 at 6:25 a.m.
SARASOTA COUNTY – A former art dealer was sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling bogus paintings to two customers, including an elderly collector who has since died.
In one case, Dowling commissioned a $21,000 painting of the Battle of Trafalgar, a detailed rendering of warships on the high seas.
But Dowling instead paid a local painter $400 to do her own version, then tried to pass it off as the real thing by hanging it in the 81-year-old Nelson Dane Jr.’s home.
“He was the biggest phony,” said Dane’s wife, Nancy. “I looked at it — and I don’t know much about art — and said, ‘That’s not what you want, Nelson.'”
Nelson died in December, but not before getting the painting he was supposed to get. The artist commissioned to paint the scene created the work, but Dowling did not pay him, Nancy Dane said.
Another collector, Arden Moore, told police that Dowling sold him a $2,675 painting supposedly from artist Marilyn Simandle, and Dowling said he sent it to her to get signed.
But after word of Dowling’s arrest was publicized, they sent a photo of the work to Simandle, who told Moore it was not her work.