- A Chinese librarian stole paintings from a gallery, replaced them with his forgeries – then realised fraudsters were doing the same thing with his fake copies!
- It’s reported that Xiao Yuan told a court he made almost 35 million Yuan ($A7.6m) by selling 125 original paintings from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
- Police later recovered a further 18 paintings from the gallery’s Chief Librarian, said to be worth $A16.7m.
- Of the paintings stolen by Xiao was Ode to Motherland by 20th century painter Qi Baishi, which was sold for $15.6m at an auction in 2012.
- In a strange twist, Xiao said he was shown pictures of his forgeries, but noticed the standard of the work was “very poor” – which meant that other fraudsters had subsequently stolen his paintings and substituted them with their own forgeries!
- In his defence, Xiao said the theft and forgery predated his employment and was commonplace at the gallery.
- It’s reported that Xiao has pleaded guilty to corruption and will be sentenced at a later date.