Page last updated at 15:03 GMT, Friday, 18 April 2008 16:03 UK

Art forgers forced to pay museums

Sean and George Greenhalgh
Sean and George Greenhalgh were sentenced in 2007

Museums conned into buying fake artworks knocked up in a garden shed will be paid back, a judge has ruled.

Shaun Greenhalgh, 47, of Bolton, fooled his local museum and experts around the world with his forgeries.

Greenhalgh, along with his father George, 84, and mother Olive, 83, who were in on the scam, was ordered to pay back 404,249 by Bolton Crown Court.

Bolton Council, which paid 440,000 for the so-called Amarna Princess, said it welcomed the conclusion of the case.

The elderly couple helped sell their son's numerous forgeries from which they made at least 850,000 over a 17-year period.

Judge William Morris made the ruling in a proceeds of crime hearing.

He ordered repayments of 363,707 to Bolton Council, which runs the town's museum, 37,975 to Sotheby's of London and 2,567 to the Henry Moore Institute in Leeds.

Diverse forgery

The total amount to be repaid was the assets seized by police in the investigation, with most of it, 384,003, from Shaun's bank account.

Speaking on Friday, Stephanie Crossley, Bolton Council's culture spokeswoman, said the authority was pleased the long-running case had been concluded.

George Greenhalgh junior
George Greenhalgh junior was the last to be sentenced

"It's good news that compensation has been made available by the court which means that those organisations which gave generous help to buy the statue will now be reimbursed for a reasonable proportion of their original contribution.

"Compensation will be based on the contributions made by each organisation and Bolton Council will not retain any of the compensation funds."

The Greenhalgh family's con was described by police as "one of the most sustained and diverse forgeries ever".

Bolton Council bought the Amarna Princess believing it was 3,300 years old - but three years later experts found it was counterfeit.

Among the other forgeries made by self-taught artist Shaun Greenhalgh were copies of statues by Barbara Hepworth, Constantin Brancusi, Henry Moore and Man Ray.

The Art Institute of Chicago reportedly paid $125,000 (61,225) for a half-man, half-goat ceramic figure, purported to be by 19th Century French artist Gauguin.

Greenhalgh, who was convicted of fraud, was jailed for four years and eight months last year.

His parents were given suspended sentences after being convicted of conspiracy to defraud.

On Thursday, their other son, George Greenhalgh Junior, was given a six-month suspended sentence for receiving 10,000 from the sale of one of the fakes.

Art forgery pensioner spared jail
28 Jan 08 |  Manchester
Statue forger jailed for art con
16 Nov 07 |  Manchester

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