GUILTY VERDICTS FOR SIMON PITTUCK AND ANDREW ROBERT CLARKIN OF THE KEITH TALENT GALLERY, LONDON
Following a lengthy investigation into the disappearance of eight original drawings belonging to the permanent collection of Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF), charges were brought against Simon Pittuck and Andrew Robert Clarkin, co-directors of the Keith Talent Gallery in London. They were brought before Snaresbrook Crown Court in London on Monday January 25, 2010 and changed their plea to guilty just as the trial was due to commence. Pittuck and Clarkin were both found guilty of the theft of three drawings that had been entrusted to their care.
Their actions were described by presiding Judge Radford, as ‘a wholly dishonest piece of behaviour entirely for gain’. As part of that ‘enterprise’, Simon Pittuck was also found guilty of causing three certificates of authenticity to be forged in order to make a sale. The purchaser of those three works, an art collector in London, restored the works to their rightful owners in 2009, when he became aware that they had been sold to him without the permission of Tom of Finland Foundation, on whose behalf the Keith Talent Gallery were meant to be acting.
After hearing the representations of the prosecuting barrister and of the counsel for each defendant, the judge concluded that the two men were equally responsible for these criminal acts. The money received from the sales of the three drawings had gone into a joint account, assisted by the forged certificates, and this was a joint enterprise for profit from selling other people’s property ‘wholly dishonestly’.
Both Clarkin and Pittuck were found guilty of THEFT and FRAUD. In addition, Pittuck was found guilty of FORGERY. On the first counts, each of the defendants was given ten months of imprisonment suspended for twelve months. Simon Pittuck was given an additional four months of imprisonment on the further counts, to run concurrently, also suspended for twelve months. Each defendant will have to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work for the benefit of the community by January 25, 2011, the exact details to be instructed later, and each will have to repay, within 28 days, the collector to whom they sold the drawings. Pittuck and Clarkin were ordered to pay towards the costs of the prosecution. Should either defendant fail to meet these conditions, he will be brought back before the court for resentencing, and will then face the prospect of the custodial sentence stated above.
In handing down his sentence, Judge Radford commented that Andrew Clarkin and Simon Pittuck had both now lost their reputation for honesty, especially in relation to any future commercial arrangements.
Tom of Finland Foundation incurred considerable costs (legal and otherwise) in investigating the disappearance of the drawings, all of which have now been recovered.