Thursday, October 04, 2007

Dealer sentenced

Jason Edward Kaufman reports in The Art Newspaper that Manhattan dealer Edward Merrin was sentenced to one year’s probation and eight months of home confinement, and ordered to pay about $50,000 in fines/restitution, in a federal case that charged him and his son Samuel with defrauding a client out of millions of dollars. The case against the son continues. Kaufman says that "in light of the scale of the allegations, the sentence is being seen by some as a 'slap on the wrist.'"

As Kaufman describes the scheme, the dealers entered into an agreement to sell the client's antiquities according to a "cost-plus" arrangment: "This meant that the [client] would pay the Merrin Gallery’s cost of acquiring the art plus an agreed commission ranging from 10% to 20% .... The indictment alleges that by misrepresenting the gallery’s acquisition cost, the Merrins fraudulently increased both the 'cost' component and commission component of the prices they charged the [client]. The government prosecuted the Merrins for mail fraud, which makes it a felony to transmit fraudulent information across state lines."