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Man Accused of Posing As Art Broker

November 26, 1998

NEW YORK (AP) _ A man who passed himself off as an art broker was charged with mail and wire fraud for offering to sell works for a fee and then pocketing the money for himself.

James Holmes, the owner of James J. Holmes Fine Art Inc., would sell the art _ including a Picasso sketch _ and then put off the pieces’ original owners by insisting the sale was in progress, prosecutors said.

Holmes, 40, was charged in an indictment returned Tuesday in U.S. District Court. If convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Spiro Ferris, a lawyer for Holmes, said he had no comment.

Among the allegations in the 11-count indictment, Holmes is accused of selling a painting titled ``Portrait of Commodore Isaac Chauncey″ by Gilbert Stuart in 1996 for $15,000, which he kept.

The indictment also said Holmes was paid $27,500 to sell a charcoal sketch entitled ``Portrait of Murielle Ysnard″ by Pablo Picasso and $100,000 for a sculpture entitled ``Grand Arabesque″ by Edgar Degas.

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