In 2009, Angela Catherine Hamblin was convicted of selling $400,000 worth of counterfeit artworks online. But she fled the United States before serving her prison sentence.
Now, 13 years later, Hamblin, who has been living in Scotland, has been extradited back home, where she will finally face incarceration.
Across a period of five months in 2007, Hamblin sold knock-off artworks attributed to Milton Avery, Juan Gris, Franz Kline, and Joseph Mallord William Turner on eBay and in private deals. She lied about the provenance of the pieces, saying, in some instances, that she inherited them from relatives or purchased them from a deceased seller.
In one case, she claimed that the artist behind a particular painting had gifted it to the choreographer George Balanchine, who in turn sold it to her great-grandfather.
After numerous complaints, Hamblin was eventually arrested in a sting operation coordinated by U.S. officials, according to the
“She had been carrying out her scheme for years,” prosecutors in the case said at the time. “She continued her fraud relentlessly. After discovering the paintings were fake, buyers would routinely demand their money back.”
Hamblin pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud in 2009, saying that she orchestrated the scheme to aid her mortgage payments. She was ordered to pay $65,000 in restitution to Jeffrey Bergen, owner of ACA Galleries, and sentenced to one year and one day in prison.
But instead of reporting to prison, Hamblin decamped to the United Kingdom. Since then, she and her husband, a former university professor, have been living the small village of St. Boswells, Scotland.
Hamblin was arrested again in May of last year after changing planes in Frankfurt, Germany, on a flight from Austria. German authorities issued an order of extradition, and she was transferred to the U.S. early this month. She has since been place in the custody of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to serve her sentence.
The news of Hamblin’s recapture was announced last week by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York.
“Hamblin went to great lengths to avoid accountability for her crimes, but this Office and the FBI have long memories and benefit greatly from our cooperation with international partners,” said U.S. Attorney Damian Williams in a statement.