Police investigate missing art dealer
Published: Feb. 1, 2009 at 1:39 AM
SYDNEY, Feb. 1 (UPI) — An Australian art dealer has disappeared, leaving clients wondering where their money and artworks are.
Police are trying to determine if Ron Coles was involved in art forgery, the Melbourne Sun-Herald reported. The newspaper cited sources in the art world who said that dubious paintings ostensibly by well-known Australian painters may be flooding the market.
“It’s been common knowledge for a while — we knew this was going to blow,” one source told the newspaper. “Nobody wanted to undermine confidence in the industry. Like it or not, the truth is now going to emerge.”
The source said one painter, d’Arcy Doyle, “was not a prolific painter and yet in recent times, there has been a never-ending stream of fresh works.”
Coles, who operated a gallery in Sydney, offered art as an investment, with many of his clients putting money from their retirement accounts into portfolios of artworks. Police say they have received 150 complaints from people who say Coles owes them money, including some who say they saw art they thought they owned on the Internet attributed to other owners.