Tuesday, April 08, 2014

The trial illuminated the dangers awaiting amateurs like Mr. Sutherland who wade into the online art market. One of Britain’s most successful artists, Mr. Hirst is perhaps best known for his conceptual works, including sharks and other animals preserved in formaldehyde tanks, and diamond-encrusted human skulls, but his minimalist polka dot paintings named after drugs and abstract round “spin” paintings are relatively easy to copy. They are often produced by his assistants.

The key question facing jurors was whether Mr. Sutherland, 46, a pastor at the nondenominational Mosaic Miami Church, knew that one of the paintings he sold was fake and hid that knowledge from an undercover officer who bought it in February 2013, just a week after Sotheby’s auction house had rejected it as inauthentic.

Mr. Sutherland, who took the stand on Friday, told the jury he got into the art market in 2010, at first trading “cowboy art” on eBay. In August 2010, he bought a set of what he believed were dot prints by Mr. Hirst from a California lawyer named Byron Grace and resold them in Florida at a $7,000 profit.

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