Adam Partridge Auctioneers Cheshire
Auctioneer in Cheshire

21/10/2010 : £330,000 Delaney street scene now valued at £5,000-10,000 in October 28 sale

The fake Lowry at the centre of a £1 million art fraud that landed Maurice “Lord Windsor” Taylor in jail has been seized by police and is heading to auction to help pay his victims compensation. Once sold for £330,000, it is now valued at just £5,000-10,000.

Cheshire fine art and antiques auctioneer Adam Partridge will sell the painting on Thursday October 28, together with two genuine Lowrys and other art works, taken from Taylor’s sprawling mansion, Brownlow Hall, near Congleton.

The seized property, to be sold without reserve, is expected to raise around £50,000-70,000, some way short of the £1.2 million Taylor needs to raise to save himself from being sent back to prison to serve a 10-year sentence.

In March 2009, Chester Crown Court was told that Taylor, 62, dubbed “Lord Fraud”, had tricked an art dealer into buying the “Lowry” for £330,000 in a meeting at his room at London’s Ritz Hotel.

Taylor had persuaded Bonhams auctioneers that the picture had come from a Manchester industrialist’s collection and was genuine. They had given Taylor a £600,000 insurance valuation on the painting, which he used to dupe David Smith, managing director of Lowry specialist dealers Neptune Fine Arts in Belper, Derbyshire, into buying it. Mr Smith, who never took possession of the painting, learned it was a fake in late 2007, after he had already made a down payment of £230,000.

The picture, which is signed and dated “L S Lowry, 1964” was, in fact, by the Manchester artist Arthur Delaney (1927-1987) a follower of Lowry, painted in homage to his friend and mentor and not intended to deceive. Taylor purchased it, knowing it was a fake, in 2004 for £7,500.

Despite being signed and bearing an inscription on the reverse which reads: "People and Mills - LS Lowry Purchased From The Artist 1909”, experts said Mill Street Scene, an oil on board of a snowy cityscape with Lowry’s trademark matchstick figures, lacked fluidity, while its muddy skies and its lampposts picked out in red were wrong.

Taylor was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment after denying six counts of fraud and one of forging an invoice to cover his tracks. He was subsequently ordered to pay back £1,157,300, which included the £230,000 to Mr Smith and £8,000 prosecution costs. If he fails to do so, he faces a further 10 years in prison.

Arthur McEvoy Delaney (1927-1987) was born in the All Saints district of Manchester into a theatrical family, his mother being a dancer and his father the famous comedian Frank Randle, a contemporary of George Formby and Gracie Fields.

Randle appeared at many local music halls and he had a notorious reputation. The police were sometimes required to ban his bawdy act and he had a habit of throwing his false teeth into the audience.

Young Arthur was born out of wedlock and the boy had a difficult childhood. After very little schooling, he started work aged of 13 in a Manchester textile design studio and remained there all his working life, retiring after 32 years.

He married his childhood sweetheart and the couple had four children. He started to paint as a hobby with no desire to turn professional. However, he held a highly successful one-man show at the Tib Lane Gallery in Manchester in 1974, when all his pictures sold within an hour of the preview opening. He and Lowry were great friends and Lowry was Delaney’s mentor. Delaney went on to exhibit at the Royal Academy and his works continued to sell well, many as limited edition prints.

The genuine Lowrys are pencil drawings with unquestionable provenance. "St Luke's Church", was previously accompanied by a letter from Lindsay Brooks, head of galleries at The Lowry Centre, dated 13th March 2006 stating that in her opinion and in the opinion of Mike Leber (former director of Salford Museum and Art Gallery), Judith Sandling (former curator of The Lowry Collection, Salford Art Gallery) and David Alston (former director of galleries at The Lowry), the picture is by LS Lowry.

It is estimated at £5,000-7,000, while a study of a male nude, signed with initials and dated 1916, is estimated at £2,000-3,000. The drawing was previously sold at Phillips North West on March 26, 1992, and prior to that at Sotheby's in Chester in March 1991, where it was listed in a group lot with provenance from Emmanuel Levy. Both works were previously with Manchester dealers Grove Fine Art.

Also from Taylor’s collection are two oils by Robert Oscar Lenkiewicz: “The Painter with Karen Ciambriello, Project 18", estimate £3,000 to £5,000 and "Elaine Armstrong, three-quarter length, naked", estimate £2,000-4,000. The latter, an oil on board, was in the Lenkiewicz Studio Sale conducted by Bearne's of Exeter on October 23, 2004.

Taylor, a self-styled lord of the manor, purchased the title “Lord Taylor Windsor” on the internet for £1,000 alongside an estate in Devon – which covers just eight square inches. An assessment of his wealth revealed that for many years he had led an extravagant lifestyle, fuelled by the profits of fraud. He had purchased lavish Cheshire homes worth over £3 million, drove top-of-the range Bentley and Range Rover cars, and regularly placed large cash deposits into his accounts.

The court heard that more than £6 million had passed through his accounts, which he could not explain. Most if his assets had been spent and those remaining may only just cover the repayment.

Detective Inspector Terry Tinsley of the police Economic Crime Unit 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 he is faced with the harsh reality that he must repay over £1 million and literally pay the price for his criminality and life of luxury.”