Atlanta art dealer forced to pay up - CBS46 News

Atlanta art dealer forced to pay up

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Bill Lowe has long been a well-known art dealer from coast to coast. His Miami Circle gallery holds some exquisite pieces of art. But some of the artists Lowe has dealt with in the past 14 years will tell you Lowe is a piece of work.

“He’s a snake oil salesman,” said attorney Patricia Roy, “an excellent snake oil salesman.”

Roy represents two of the 11 artists Lowe apparently swindled. One of those artists busted Lowe when he happened to go a restaurant in Los Angeles, a city where Lowe once had a gallery. Roy said Lowe had told her client his artwork had been sold to someone in Dubai and that the money was on the way.

“He saw his artwork on the wall and talked to the restauranteur who told him that Bill Lowe had given that artwork to him to pay off a catering debt,” Roy said.

Detectives joined Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard at a news conference Thursday to discuss Lowe’s guilty plea. They said for years, Lowe would pocket money that was supposed to go to the artists.

Lowe pleaded guilty on April 18 to a single count of theft by conversion. He did so by using an Alford plea, which allows a defendant to plead guilty but not admit to the criminal act. Essentially, Lowe acknowledged that the evidence is enough to convince a jury that he’s guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

As part of the plea deal, Lowe was sentenced as s first-time offender to 10 years of probation. The judge ordered him to pay restitution of $256,514.19.

Howard presented a ceremonial restitution check to representatives of 11 artists. He said there are likely many more victims who’ve chosen not to come forward.

“He (Lowe) was a very powerful person in the arts community,” Howard said. “The artists looked to him to be able to provide for their very own livelihoods and so he took advantage of it.”

CBS46 News went to Lowe’s Miami Circle gallery in Buckhead Thursday to try to get a comment from him. He wasn’t there.

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