Pumpkin sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama (archive image)
German art dealer Angela Gulbenkian has been sentenced to three and a half years in prison in Great Britain for fraud.
The 40-year-old Munich resident was found guilty of theft of a million pounds (1.2 million euros) through fraudulent art deals.
She had abused the reputation of her husband's family in order to finance her luxurious lifestyle through the crimes.
In May 2017, she sold a sculpture by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama - a giant yellow speckled pumpkin - for the equivalent of 1.2 million euros to a Hong Kong art society, although the work of art did not even belong to her.
It was never delivered after the sum was paid to Gulbenkian's private account.
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In addition, the convict convinced an acquaintance in London to entrust her savings of 50,000 pounds to invest in the art market.
However, she never did, and only paid back the money after the case was reported to the police.
Married into the Gulbenkian clan
The accused, married to a member of the Gulbenkian family, who is prominent in the art world, used her name and pretended to be a broker in order to get at the savings of her victims. "Angela Gulbenkian has used her status and her influential relationships in the art world to give her criminal activities the appearance of legitimacy," said prosecutor Laura Hoon during the trial. For months she maintained a "lie construct".
Gulbenkian pleaded guilty.
Before the Southwark Crown Court in London, she said that she had used the looted money to finance her standard of living after her husband had fallen out with his family and they suddenly ran out of money.
Accordingly, she spent 142,000 euros on travel, 65,800 euros on works of art and other sums for luxury goods and the charter of a private plane.
Since her arrest in Lisbon and extradition to the UK in December 2000, Gulbenkian has been in custody, so she only has to spend 18 more months in prison.
tfb / AFP