1. ITV Report

'Pitman Painter' fakes by Sunderland con man

Paintings by Richard Pearson from Sunderland were passed off as original artwork by Norman Cornish. Photo: Northumbria Police

Pictures have been released of the fake Norman Cornish paintings forged by a man from Sunderland.

The bogus artwork unsettled the international art market and saw the fraudster artist jailed.

Earlier this week conman Richard Pearson was locked up for distributing the forged work claiming to belong to the famous 'pitman painter' who died in 2014.

Northumbria Police released photographs of some of the paintings and drawings which fooled gallery owners.

Richard Pearson was locked up for flooding the art world with forged work claiming to belong to the famous 'pitman painter' Credit: Northumbria Police

They are not exact replicas of Cornish originals but are painted in the artist's distinctive style, showing scenes of everyday life.

One, however, does bear a striking resemblance to Cornish's 'Man at Bar with Pint'.

Newcastle Crown Court heard 56-year-old fraudster Pearson convinced the owners of a gallery in Corbridge, Northumberland, that he had access to a collection of Mr Cornish's artworks through inheritance and a friend who wanted to sell his personal collection.

Pearson, of Thomas Street North, Sunderland, passed off a series of 14 drawings and pictures, which left the gallery owners who bought them, £52,500 out of pocket.

Four of the fakes were sold on to private collectors.

The total amount of money gallery owners mistakenly paid for the fake artwork.
One of the forged works resembles Cornish's 'Man at Bar with Pint'. Credit: Northumbria Police

Norman Cornish's son-in-law Michael Thornton read a victim impact statement in court on behalf of the family.

He said Norman Cornish ltd, actively monitors the sales of his artwork, throughout the world, and are always alert to fakes and forgeries.

Mr Thornton urged the court to pass a deterrent sentence to protect the art

world and the credibility of Mr Cornish:

Norman's reputation must not be sullied.

We welcome today's sentence and feel that the outcome should serve as a warning to other forgers and fraudsters.

The forged material will be destroyed, ensuring complete confidence within the art market for collectors, dealers and auctioneers."

– Michael Thornton, Norman Cornish's son-in-law

Pearson pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud, two of forgery and two of using a false instrument with intent between December 2011 and February 2014.

He was sentenced to three years and seven months behind bars.