Art Dealer Jailed for Cheating Celebrity Painters

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. commission / kəˈmɪʃ ən / (n) – an amount of money paid to someone for selling something

    I gave her a commission from selling my car for me.

  2. entitle / ɛnˈtaɪt l / (v) – to give someone the right or benefit to something

    As my most trusted assistant, you are entitled to a five-percent commission when you sell this painting.

  3. possession / pəˈzɛʃ ən / (n) – something that someone owns

    The vintage camera is my father’s prized possession.

  4. dabble / ˈdæb əl / (v) – to engage in an activity, usually not seriously

    My mother dabbled in film-making when she was younger.

  5. try (one’s) hand at (something) / traɪ hænd æt / (idiom) – to attempt to do something

    I want you to try your hand at painting.


Read the text below.

Jonathan Poole, a British art dealer, was found guilty of theft after stealing around $700,000 worth of artwork from his clients.

According to reports, Poole sold his clients’ artwork and took a higher commission than what he was entitled to. He also sold his clients’ possessions and kept the profits to himself. For a span of 27 years, he got away with multiple theft cases by making excuses to his clients, saying things like their pieces had been destroyed by flood.

Poole had been an art dealer for over 40 years and had gained the trust of many celebrity clients, including musicians like Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and Beatles member John Lennon. However, the once respected art dealer ran into financial difficulties, with reports saying that most of his money was going into gambling.

Poole stole and sold several of Wood’s paintings, including portraits of musicians Mick Jagger and Bob Dylan. He also sold pieces created by other celebrities.

Artworks by celebrities usually sell for high prices. Aside from Wood’s and Lennon’s, pieces from other performers have also been bought by art collectors for a huge sum. Paul McCartney, another Beatles member, has dabbled in art since he was young. A pencil doodle from his teenage years sold for around $5,000 in 2013. Singer Chris Brown, who has also tried his hand at visual arts, had previously collaborated with a street artist to produce seven paintings. They were able to sell three of the said paintings for $60,000, and they gave half of the profit to charity.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What factors affect the price of an artwork? Discuss.
• Why are certain people willing to pay extremely high prices for artwork?

Discussion B

• Why do you think celebrities try their hand at other art forms? Speculate.
• What forms of art would you want to dabble in? Discuss.