Two Melbourne men faked paintings by artist Brett Whiteley and sold them for millions.
Art restorer Mohamed Aman Siddique and dealer Peter Gant were found guilty by a jury on Thursday on charges of obtaining and attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception by selling fake Whiteley paintings.
At the centre of the four-week Victorian Supreme Court trial were two Lavender Bay paintings, and a third painting, Through the Window.
Siddique was accused of creating the fake paintings at a studio in Collingwood.
Sydney Swans chairman Andrew Pridham bought Blue Lavender Bay for $2.5 million, while Orange Lavender Bay sold for $1.1 million.
The third painting was set to be sold for $950,000.
At trial, Brett Whiteley’s former wife testified she knew there was something wrong with the paintings as soon as she saw them.
But Wendy Whiteley didn’t quite know how to tell the Sydney Swans chairman her suspicions.
The large Blue Lavender painting was the first thing she saw as she walked into his multi million-dollar Mosman home in April 2008.
She thought to herself “it’s not right” but didn’t say anything to Mr Pridham.
“It’s a big deal to tell someone ‘you’ve got a huge fake on the wall’,” Ms Whiteley told the court on April 22.
Ms Whiteley said the Blue and Orange Lavender Bay paintings are inconsistent with her former husband’s work.
She said there were telling signs that Orange Lavender Bay, which she was invited to inspect in 2009, was not painted by her former husband.
“The lack of spontaneity, the lack of wit, the lack of spirit – the lack of everything,” Ms Whiteley said.
“It looked as though as though it had been traced and knitted together badly.”
The men, who have been on bail since they were charged in 2014, will remain on bail until they are sentenced in June.