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Last Updated: Monday, 18 September 2006, 21:49 GMT 22:49 UK
Forger jailed for selling fakes
Robert Thwaites
Thwaites was described as a talented artist
A forger who made more than 120,000 from the sale of two fake paintings has been jailed for two years.

Robert Thwaites tricked Antiques Roadshow art expert Rupert Maas into paying 20,000 for one of his copies.

London gallery owner Maas sold on The Miser purported to be by John Anster Fitzgerald for a 300% mark-up, Middlesex Guildhall Crown Court heard.

Thwaites, from Leek, Staffs, made more than 100,000 from another Fitzgerald fake called Going To The Masked Ball.

Talented painter

He was arrested with his brother, Brian Thwaites, 50, after a suspicious client refused to buy a third work entitled Poppy with Imps and Fairies and Foliage .

Robert Thwaites, described as a talented artist despite receiving no formal training, worked as a graphic designer until he was forced to give it up as his eyesight deteriorated.

They (the paintings) are deeply impressive and they have convinced and fooled experts
Recorder Terence Coghlan QC

A book called The Art Forgers Handbook as well as a number of genuine Victorian newspapers used for backing the paintings were recovered at the homes of Thwaites and his brother.

Recorder Terence Coghlan QC told Thwaites: "You are a man of remarkably talented painting skills."

Referring to the paintings, he said: "They are deeply impressive and they have convinced and fooled experts."

Stuart Denny, defending Robert Thwaites, said his client hatched the plan not as a means of funding a lavish lifestyle but in order to make ends meet.

Thwaites pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining money by deception between April 1999 and February 2004 and one charge of conspiracy to obtain money by deception.

His brother, Brian Thwaites, was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for two years, after admitting one count of conspiracy to obtain money by deception.

Accomplice Gordon Strong, 58, from Bristol, was handed a community service sentence after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.

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