MANHATTAN (CN) – A Corot painting has gone missing and a man has been arrested. Federal prosecutors say Thomas A. Doyle defrauded an art collector in a deal for Corot’s “Portrait of a Girl.” Doyle allegedly lied about the $1.1 million purchase price and lied about having a buyer who would pay $1.7 million for it.
Doyle faces a one-count complaint of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud. The painting’s whereabouts are unknown.
Doyle, who was arrested Thursday, “fraudulently solicited” $880,000 from his victim, claiming he would put up the other $220,000 to buy the painting for $1.1 million, prosecutors said. But Doyle had actually arranged to buy the painting for $775,000, an FBI agent said in the unsealed complaint.
Doyle falsely claimed he had a buyer who would pay $1.7 million for the painting, but had been told by an experience appraiser that the painting would bring only $500,000 to $700,000 at auction, prosecutors say.
“After the Corot painting was purchased by Doyle and Victim 1, CC-2 [co-conspirator 2] removed the painting from storage without authorization,” the FBI agent said in the complaint. “The whereabouts of the Corot painting currently are unknown.”
If convicted, Doyle faces up to 20 years in prison.
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot (1796-1875) was the leader of the Barbizon school of landscape painting, a Neo-Classical reaction to the dominant Romantic movement, which anticipated some elements of the coming Impressionists.