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Norfolk art dealer faces jail

PUBLISHED: 18:00 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 09:31 02 July 2010

Ben Kendall

A Norfolk art dealer who conned clients out of hundreds of thousands of pounds as he fraudulently traded in the works of famous painters has been warned he could face jail.

A Norfolk art dealer who conned clients out of hundreds of thousands of pounds as he fraudulently traded in the works of famous painters has been warned he could face jail.

Andrew Parkinson, 49, of Anchor Road, Tunstead, brokered deals involving original or limited edition works by artists including Damien Hirst, Jack Vettriano and Rolf Harris. But for more than a decade he ripped off clients across the world - either by taking artwork from them and failing to sell or return it, or by taking cash and never delivering the goods.

He pleaded guilty to 23 counts of theft, eight of obtaining money by deception and two of fraud. He is accused of profiting to the tune of at least £250,000, but victims claim this is only the tip of the iceberg. The prosecution also asked for a further 20 offences to be taken into account.

Adjourning the hearing at Taunton Crown Court, recorder Andrew Maitland said: “You have pleaded guilty to a substantial number of offences involving grave dishonesty. I warn you that the court will have in mind imprisonment to some degree. You should prepare yourself for that.”

Parkinson operated from the Street Gallery in Street, Somerset, and over the internet through his own website and auction sites including Ebay. Originally from Norfolk, he returned to the county when the allegations first came to light more than two years ago and told the court he moved back to Tunstead to look after his sick mother.

The charges date between 1999 to 2008 and involve some of the biggest names in art. He regularly sold pieces worth tens of thousands of pounds.

His victims range from private individuals investing on a small scale to specialist art dealers, believed to include a number in Norfolk.

A number of former clients are considering civil action to reclaim the money they say they are still owed.

Parkinson will be sentenced at a date to be fixed.

Were you a victim of Andrew Parkinson? Contact crime correspondent Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or email ben.kendall@archant.co.uk

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