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October 4th, 2014

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September 18th, 2014

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Former art gallery owner sentenced for swindling artists

By KERANA TODOROV, Register Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, July 9, 2010 12:00 am | (0) Comments

A former art gallery owner has been sentenced to five years in state prison for grand theft and sales tax fraud committed in Yountville, court records show.

Edward King III pleaded no contest in January to fraud under a plea agreement that could have kept him away from prison. Under the deal, King was supposed to pay $500,000 in restitution by June 1. He never did.

On June 30, Napa County Superior Court Judge Stephen Kroyer sentenced King, 55, to five years in state prison for grand theft charges stemming from the sale of artwork consigned at King’s “Generations Fine Art Gallery” between 2002 and 2006. The five-year sentence includes two years for failure to pay sales tax.

King sold art consigned at his gallery at Vintage 1870 on Washington Street. Vintage 1870 is now V Marketplace.

According to court records, the victims, including artists and art dealers from out of state, said they had placed their art work in consignment at the Washington Street gallery, but were not paid their dues. Their losses ranged from $2,200 to more than $77,000, according to court records.

The victims reported calling, and even coming to the art gallery, only to find the store closed and empty.

“Eventually, it all caught up with him,” said Napa County Deputy District Attorney Gary Van Camp, who negotiated a plea agreement in an attempt to have King repay the victims.

But King, who moved from Napa to Texas a few years ago, where he last worked as a golf pro, filed for bankruptcy in 2009. In court records, King stated he had not been able to make restitution for a variety of reasons, including a down real estate market.

The sale of his house, which had been expected to bring $140,000, was sold in a short sale with no money realized from the sale, King said in court records.

King also stated he was overwhelmed by his wife’s cancer after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2003, according to the court records. Vicky King died in 2009.

“Ed, he lost his rock when his wife took sick,” his attorney, Matthew Bishop, said Wednesday.

According to court documents, King said “My family and I were not able to raise the $500,000 restitution in the last four months because of the extreme financial exhaustion of the family income and savings due to Vicky’s cancer lasting six years and the ongoing legal costs associated with this case.”

Victims stated in court records the hardships they endured over the past few years because of King’s actions.

Fran DiGiacomo, an artist from Texas who is owed $3,000, said she has undergone chemotherapy since 1996.

“The relationship between artist and gallery owner is unique because it relies entirely upon the honesty, integrity, and trustworthiness of the gallery owner,” DiGiacomo wrote. “Mr. King completely destroyed my faith in the system, and I am unable to trust other galleries, afraid to send them artwork. I have lost income, and lost opportunity. Mr. King crushed my mental and emotional ability to create artwork,” she wrote.

July 9th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports


Legal Action Considered In Art Heist Case

Art Collection Allegedly Worth $80M

POSTED: 8:14 am PDT July 6, 2010
UPDATED: 8:20 am PDT July 7, 2010

Two individuals who allege they are the victims of a multimillion-dollar art heist that took place in Pebble Beach last year announced Tuesday that they have hired new lawyers in a claim against Monterey County and the sheriff’s department.
Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio are being represented by attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher C. Cayce, a civil law firm in Monterey, in a claim against the county and sheriff’s department, according to an e-mail sent by Amadio to Action News.
Amadio said that he and Kennaugh have been working with the law firm for nearly six months.
Action News spoke with that attorney on Tuesday and he said no lawsuit has been filed.
A follow-up e-mail from Amadio was unclear and the attorney said he doesn’t know why he sent the e-mail in the morning. The attorney told Action News they have made progress in their efforts to prove that the artwork they claim was stolen actually existed and Amadio and Kennaugh were its owners.
They said they have new evidence; video of the paintings and what he called archival records they found in storage in other places around the country proving their case.
They will present that evidence in an examination with the Farmer’s Insurance Company on Wednesday.
Action News asked to see that evidence, but the attorney would not release it, at least not until the insurance examination is complete.
Amadio and Kennaugh said they were victims of a brazen art heist that took place at a Pebble Beach rental home last October.
The stolen collection — which includes works by Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt and Van Gogh — may be worth as much as $80 million.
Both Amadio and Kennaugh said they believe the heist was an inside job and done by a professional who had knowledge of what art was at the home.
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the sheriff’s department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
Amadio and Kennaugh, meanwhile, had hired their own private investigators who are working on the case.
In December, the lawyer for Amadio and Kennaugh dropped her clients, citing a conflict of interest.
Vicki St. John said she dropped Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio as clients since she can be considered a witness because her name appeared on a memo written by Amadio that makes claims and charges against the Monterey County District Attorney and Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
“I want it to be known that I had no part in this train wreck,” St. John told Action News.
In the e-mail sent to Action News on Tuesday, Amadio said all questions in the case should be directed to their attorneys.
As for the investigation into the art theft, sheriff’s investigators said they haven’t seen any new evidence which left them with their original question: did the artwork ever exist, and was there even a crime?
So far, the sheriff’s department has sent nothing to the district attorney’s office which would be necessary before any charges could be filed against anybody.

July 8th, 2010

Posted In: Mailing list reports