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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Honest Antiques Dealer, A True Oxymoron !!

TV antiques expert accused of stealing paintings from elderly woman

An antiques expert who regularly appears on BBC's Bargain Hunt appeared in court on Wednesday charged with stealing two paintings worth thousands of pounds from a pensioner.

Michael Hogben, (above), 54, the star of BBC shows Bargain Hunt, Real Deal and Auction Man appeared at Folkestone Magistrates charged with two counts of theft.

The court heard how the flamboyant TV star allegedly stole a portrait and landscape painting from the elderly woman’s home between June and November 2005.

Prosecutor Anna Kachingwe said the pensioner contacted Hogben, who lives in Hythe, to ask him to value a number of pieces of antique furniture she wanted to sell.

"Mr Hogben worked as an auctioneer before selling his business in 2004.

"The defendant took a particular interest in two of the paintings - one a portrait, the other a landscape.

Ms Kachingwe said Hogben offered to have the paintings valued by an expert.

She claimed Hogben then took them away and that the woman had not seen them since.

She added: “She has not received any money for them either. The paintings were not received at the auction house.

“We do not have an exact value for the paintings but we would like this case to go crown court due to the high value of the paintings that were taken.”

Hogben, whose best man at his wedding was TV funnyman Vic Reeves, spoke only to confirm his name and address in the 10-minute hearing.

The TV star’s defence lawyer Jim Morrisson said: “Mr Hogben vehemently denies these allegations.”

The case has been adjourned until January 17 next year.

Art Hostage comments:

If Hogben produces the paintings before or at the next court appearance, then there will not be a case to answer. Some kind of excuse about a misunderstanding, or memory loss will serve the purpose.

However, if Hogben has sold these paintings and that can be proved, even if Hogben retrieves the paintings in the meantime, there is certainly a case to be answered.

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