Forging Folk Art

The late Clementine Hunter, at home in Louisiana

A 79-year-old man from Baton Rouge has pleaded guilty to forging paintings of folk artist Clementine Hunter. William Toye pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to one count of conspiracy to sell forged works. Here is an excerpt of the New York Times story:

 Over the past four decades, Mr. Toye and his wife have been formally accused three times of having sold or trying to sell fakes, most often imitations of paintings by the folk artist Clementine Hunter, whose work Mr. Toye professes to despise. But this is the first time he has been fully prosecuted. 
The conspiracy being considered is an odd one, involving Mr. Toye’s British-born wife, Beryl, and a dealer in New Orleans named Robert E. Lucky Jr., who is alleged to have sold the Toye Hunters to customers around the country and in some cases to have resold them after they were returned by disgruntled purchasers.
There is a good deal of bad blood. In a floridly reproachful letter in 2005, Ms. Toye told Mr. Lucky that if he were to end up in jail, “it will be with my blessing and my boot up your rear end.” Yet Mr. Lucky and Ms. Toye are scheduled to go on trial in August. (Ms. Toye’s lawyer said she continues to maintain her innocence.)        

  1. Campbell Robertson, “William Toye Pleads Guilty to Fraud,” The New York Times, June 7, 2011, sec. U.S., http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/08/us/08forgery.html.
  2. “Baton Rouge man admits Clementine Hunter forgery | NOLA.com”, n.d., http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2011/06/baton_rouge_man_admits_clement.html.
Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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