Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

Mass. Man Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Admits to Creating Fake Artifact

A Massachusetts man has pleaded guilty to forging an artifact that was placed on display at a Connecticut museum.

Harold Gordon, 69, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. According to the US Attorney’s office, Gordon admitted to turning a plain writing desk into the "Bingham Family Civil War Memorial Secretary." The piece was said to be a gift given to a Civil War veteran in honor of his brother who was killed at the Battle of Antietam.

Gordon sold the piece to a Connecticut antiques dealer for more than $64,000 in 2014. The victim showed the piece at a 2015 Winter Antiques Show in New York, where it was purchased by the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art.

In 2018, questions were raised about the authenticity of the desk. The US Attorney’s office said when the victim questioned Gordon, he admitted to decorating the desk himself and lying about the item’s history, then targeted the victim to buy it because of the victim’s respected reputation in the American folk art community. When the fraud was discovered, the victim refunded the museum for the desk.

Gordon is scheduled for sentencing on April 23. He face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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