Manchester

Cheshire Lowry conman ordered to repay more than £1m

Mill Street Scene
Image caption Maurice Taylor bought the fake Mill Street Scene for £7,500 in 2004

A self-styled lord of the manor who made hundreds of thousands of pounds when he sold a fake Lowry painting has been ordered to repay more than £1m.

Maurice Taylor, who bought the title Lord Taylor Windsor on the internet, tricked auctioneers into believing the 1964 Mill Street Scene was genuine.

The 62-year-old of Congleton, Cheshire, was jailed for three years after being convicted of fraud in March 2009.

On Tuesday, a judge at Chester Crown Court ordered he pay back £1,157,300.

Within that he must pay £230,000 in compensation to buyer David Smith, and prosecution costs of £8,000.

Extravagant lifestyle

Judge Roger Dutton issued a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act, after police investigated his finances.

They found Taylor had lived an extravagant lifestyle for years "fuelled by the profits of fraud".

He bought homes worth more than £3m, drove luxury cars and regularly deposited large amounts of cash into bank accounts.

Detectives discovered more than £6m had passed through his accounts which he could not account for.

Most of his assets have been spent and those remaining will only just cover the repayment, police said.

Det Insp Terry Tinsley, of Cheshire police, said "The audacity of Maurice Taylor is staggering - he led a life of luxury, borne out of the exploitation of others by dealing in fake paintings.

"Now Taylor is faced with the harsh reality that he must repay over £1m and literally pay the price for his criminality and life of luxury."

Taylor bought the painting by artist Arthur Delaney in 2004 for £7,500.

But he told auctioneers Bonhams he bought it in the late 1960s from an industrialist called Eddie Rosenfeld, who died in 1984.

Prison threat

Bonhams gave Taylor a £600,000 insurance valuation which he used as part of a scheme to fool buyer Mr Smith, managing director of Neptune Fine Arts.

Mr Smith was convinced by Taylor's story and agreed to buy the painting at a meeting at The Ritz hotel in London.

Mr Smith discovered the piece of art was fake in late 2007, after he had already paid £230,000.

Taylor must repay the money within six months or he faces 10 years in prison.

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