UPDATE: A Beckley man was sentenced in Boston, MA on Tuesday, May 15, 2018 for trying to sell paintings he did not have on Craigslist. The paintings were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
Todd Andrew Desper, 48, went before U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel. Desper was sentenced to time served and three years of supervised release. Three months of that will be served on home confinement.
ORIGINAL STORY: A Beckley man pleaded guilty to trying to sell stolen artwork he did not have to foreign buyers. Todd Andrew Desper, 48, pleaded guilty to four counts of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud. He was arrested in Beckley in May 2017.
Desper had contacted foreign buyers on Craigslist using the name “Mordokwan” claiming to have Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s “The Concert.” Those were two of 13 paintings stolen from Boston, Massachusetts’ Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 1990.
Authorities were notified of the notices on Craigslist by people who were looking to help in the recovery of the artwork. That led the security director of the Gardner Museum to contact Desper to see if he actually had access to the masterpieces. Desper responded by asking for a $5 Million cashier’s check to be sent to a location in Beckley. In return, Desper said “Storm on the Sea of Galliee” would be sent concealed behind another painting. The investigation eventually revealed that Desper had no access to the stolen paintings or information on where they are located.
Desper is facing up to 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine. He is scheduled to be sentenced in a Boston federal courtroom on May 15, 2018.