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Bolton fake statue fraudster Shaun Greenhalgh 'regrets' conning museum

Shaun Greenhalgh Image copyright Bolton Council
Image caption Shaun Greenhalgh sold a fake statue made in his garden shed for £440,000

A fraudster who conned the art world has told museum staff that he regrets duping experts with a fake statue.

Bolton Museum paid £440,000 for the Amarna Princess figure, believing it had acquired a 3,300-year-old artefact.

But the statue of the granddaughter of King Tutankhamun was actually created by prolific forger Shaun Greenhalgh in his garden shed.

Greenhalgh said he felt "bad" but stopped short of apologising when he visited the museum for a documentary.

Over a 17-year period, Greenhalgh and his elderly parents sold hundreds of fakes they passed off as the genuine article, earning at least £850,000.

The scam unravelled when mistakes in Egyptian script were spotted on stonework by experts at the British Museum and Greenhalgh, then 47, was jailed in 2007 at Bolton Crown Court.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Experts were duped into believing the Amarna Princess was a 3,300-year-old artefact

His visit to Bolton Museum with a team of documentary makers last week was the second time he has returned but the first time he had met staff.

Greenhalgh said he "felt really bad" about duping the museum, which he said had inspired his love of art when he visited as a child.

Image copyright Bolton Council
Image caption Greenhalgh returned to meet museum staff for the first time for a documentary

"Everyone's been very nice," he said.

"I was half expecting a dagger in my back."

The visit will feature in a documentary called Made in Bolton, which is being produced by Sunday Times arts editor Waldemar Januszczak.

The Amarna Princess was authenticated by auctioneer Christie's and the British Museum before being bought by Bolton Museum, operated by the town's council, in 2003.

The Greenhalgh family fooled experts from all the great auction houses by claiming they had found or inherited pieces by artists including LS Lowry, Samuel Peploe, Thomas Moran and Barbara Hepworth.

George and Olive Greenhalgh were given suspended sentences.

Image copyright Bolton Council
Image caption Greenhalgh said he was inspired to take up art by childhood visits to the museum

Bolton Museum first put the fake statue on display in 2011 and it has since become a permanent exhibit.

The council's deputy leader Martyn Cox said: "We are glad that Mr Greenhalgh is now putting his extraordinary talents to good honest use."

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