The 74-year-old British citizen Angela Catherine Hamblin was extradited from Germany to the United States to serve out a prison sentence for selling over $400,000 of counterfeit art, the US Department of Justice announced on 21 April. Hamblin originally pled guilty to her crimes in 2009 and was sentenced to a year and one day in US prison, but failed to report to authorities, instead fleeing to Scotland, where she remained a fugitive until 2022. She was re-arrested while boarding a plane in Frankfurt last May.
Hamblin’s scheme took place over a five-month period in 2007, in which she sold at least four knock-off paintings online that she falsely represented as the works by Milton Avery, Juan Gris, Franz Kline and JMW Turner. She fudged the works’ provenance by claiming she had inherited the pieces from relatives or purchased them from a long-deceased dealer.
Following a series of complaints, Hamblin was arrested in a sting operation by US officials. According to prosecutors, she had been engaging in this fraud “for years” at the time of her initial arrest. She pled guilty to two counts of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud, admitting that she engaged in the phony sales to help with her mortgage payments. She was ordered to pay $65,000 to Jeffrey Bergen, owner of ACA Galleries, in addition to serving her prison sentence. Hamblin failed to report to prison, however, absconding to the small village of St Boswells, Scotland, with her husband, a former university professor.
“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” Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement.