A man has pleaded guilty to fraud after trying to sell antiquities through UK auction houses.
On Friday, 8 September, Aleksander Ribnikov of Bear Road, Feltham, pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud by false representation at Isleworth Crown Court, following an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service's Art and Antiques Unit. He is due to be sentenced on 29 September - writes met. police.
The first fraud was committed against Timeline Auctions Ltd. On 30 November 2016, Ribnikov brought a Greek patera (a shallow libation bowl) to Timeline's premises in Harwich.
Ribnikov produced a provenance document which purported to show that he had bought the patera in 1987 from a man in Swansea, and the item was accepted for sale as dating back to the 4th or 5th century BC with an estimate of £80,000 to £100,000.
However, enquiries by the Met's Art and Antiques Unit proved conclusively that the provenance document was fake: not only did the alleged seller not exist, the document has been written in a Poundland notebook which had only been produced after 2013.
The second fraud was perpetuated against Christie's in London in April 2016. Ribnikov attempted to sell a number of antiquities through the auction house using another false provenance document purporting to show that he bought the items in 1994. However, the provenance document was not accepted as genuine and the auction house did not agree to sell any of the items. When police investigated, the provenance document was provably false as the contact address did not exist.
DC Sophie Hayes, from the Art and Antiques Unit, said:"Ribnikov was a determined fraudster trying to sell high value antiquities through UK auction houses without legitimate provenance documents. Thankfully he was stopped before these items were sold to unsuspecting buyers."
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