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Best Friends Convicted After Selling Bogus Paintings for Millions

Billy ‘The Brush’ Mumford and David Henty are the best friends who forged over 1,000 pieces and sold fake paintings for millions.

Photo Credit: Vox
Photo Credit: Vox/YouTube

Forgeries pose the largest threat to the art world, fake paintings estimate to populate the art market by up to 50 per cent.

Billy ‘The Brush’ Mumford, prior to his arrest, forged over 1,000 pieces that have since circulated the global. Meanwhile, his best friend David Henty sold his fakes on eBay, seeing recent Picasso copies reaching as high as £1 million at auction.

Mumford was jailed for two years in 2012 after admitting he had circulated 1,000 fake works into the art market after a five year period, imitating a range of artists such as Francis Newton Souza, Sayed Haider Raza, Jilali Gharbaoui, Sadanand Bakre, Maqbool Fida Husain, Welsh landscape painter Kyffin Williams, and English surrealist and modernist artist John Tunnard.

‘Operation Sketch’, led by the Metropolitan Police Art and Antiques Unit, uncovered Mumford and his co-conspirators place art for sale on eBay and auction houses, after a major London auction house had identified an unusually large volume of Husain paintings offered for sale.

However, detectives to date how only managed to find 40, leaving hundreds still in circulation.

Mumford explained that he got into forgery by being ‘dismissed from St Martins [school] in 1968 after being intoxicated in a life drawing class. From there, my choice was to either get a job or use what limited artistic skills I had.’

‘I wouldn’t touch forgeries with a barge pole anymore. Although sometimes  I do some of my own art.’

Mumford’s best friend, David Henty, on the other hand, got into forgery by initially forging passports. After serving time, Henty was inspired to take up the brush.

‘It is very difficult to sell your own work. I painted a Paul Henry, an Irish artist, and I made a £1,000,’ David commented.

‘At one point, I had a criminal tax investigation because I was making so much money. But I have straightened the taxman out now.’

Today, Mumford and Henty have apparently hung up their forgery boots and leisurely visit car boot sales for art materials and explore catalogues for inspiration. 

‘To be an artist, you have to steal a space on a rich man’s wall,’ Mumford concluded.

To see another upcoming work of art, check out Elizabeth Bank’s upcoming ‘Cocaine Bear’ movie.

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