Art Dealers Donald Smith and Emma Poole Flee To France After Being Investigated for Theft and Fraud
Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, owner of Rise Gallery, bought Opus Art from Donald Smith and Emma Poole in April and was quickly inundated by debts and complaints. Photo: via The Independent
Source: Artnet News
Police are investigating claims of fraud and theft surrounding the gallery Opus Art in Stow-on-the-Wold, in Gloucestershire, England where dealers Donald Smith and Emma Poole sold works by a range of contemporary artists, including YBA's Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn, and Pop legend Andy Warhol.
The Independent reports that the dealers recently sold their gallery and moved to a 47-acre property in a village in the south of France with their family.
Gloucestershire Police launched an investigation and raided the gallery's storage space after receiving a number of complaints from artists and collectors claiming they had never received proceeds from the sale of their works through the gallery.
“Police have seized a large number of works and assets previously held by the company," a police spokesperson said. “Investigations are ongoing to establish ownership of the seized property and what specific criminal offences have been committed. We will seek to bring any perpetrators of fraud or theft in this case to justice, and in due course to reunite the works with their owners."
An Andy Warhol open edition screenprint, entitled (Sunday B. Morning): Marilyn Monroe IV, is currently offered at Opus Art's eBay page for £420. Photo: via eBay
The dealers' biggest fraud victim is Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison, who runs Rise Gallery in south London, and who bought Opus Art from Donald Smith and Emma Poole in April for “a six-figure sum." The share transfer, however, never materialized.
“Don approached me on my wedding day last year telling me he and Emma wanted to retire to France and whether I was interested in buying their gallery," Zuchowski-Morrison told the Independent. “I was, thinking I could eventually incorporate Opus into Rise, so we began negotiations later. As I soon as I signed the deal, however, things went very wrong."