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Sep 9, 2010 9:59 PM by Alison Haynes

Co-owner of missing painting charged with fraud

NEW YORK (AP) - A con man carried out an "inartful fraud" when
he fooled an art collector into thinking they were partners in the
$1.1 million purchase of a missing painting but was actually
ripping the investor off, a federal prosecutor said Thursday.
Thomas Doyle, 54, was arrested on charges of conspiracy to
commit mail fraud and wire fraud in the dealings over a
century-and-a-half-old painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
entitled "Portrait of a Girl."
Doyle took advantage of an investor's enthusiasm for the
painting by arranging in June for the investor to pay $880,000 for
an 80 percent ownership share of a painting that was worth $500,000
to $700,000, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
"Doyle's alleged efforts turned out to be an inartful fraud,"
Bharara said.
If Doyle decorates walls with fine art in the future, the walls
"may be the inside of a prison cell," said Janice K. Fedarcyk,
head of New York's FBI office.
A criminal complaint in U.S. District Court in Manhattan said
Doyle persuaded an investor in Japan to pay him the $880,000 for
the circa 1857 painting, which he was supposed to then buy for $1.1
million. Authorities said Doyle had already bought the painting for
$775,000 and pocketed an extra $105,000 by charging the investor
too much. The investor's identity was not released in court papers.
The FBI began investigating after Doyle's girlfriend, Kristyn
Trudgeon, filed a lawsuit alleging that she had been a victim of
fraud in the disappearance of the painting when a man entrusted
with helping to sell it claimed he lost the art in New York City in
July when he was intoxicated. The lawsuit, which alleged she was a
part owner of the masterpiece, has since been withdrawn.
The FBI said in court papers that Doyle misrepresented the sale
price of the painting to the co-purchaser in Japan and to the
operator of an art gallery in Vancouver, Canada, who acted as the
co-purchaser's broker.
Doyle's lawyer, Kevin Keating, portrayed his client as a victim
as he spoke to reporters before Doyle made an initial appearance in
federal court.
"This appears to be a squeeze play designed to get at the
location of the painting. The problem is they're going after the
wrong guy. He doesn't have it. He doesn't know where it is,"
Keating said.
After a prosecutor asked that Doyle be held without bail during
Doyle's initial court appearance, Keating agreed that his client
could remain detained at least until he offers a bail package
sometime next week. Trudgeon watched the proceeding and left court
immediately afterward.
Keating said Doyle has lived in Manhattan for the last nine
months, working as a salesman at a travel agency.

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