|For Immediate Release
Case #08HF0204 February 1, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
NEWPORT BEACH ARTIST ARRESTED IN TEXAS
ON WARRANT FOR PICASSO SKETCH SCAM
NEWPORT BEACH – A Newport Beach artist was arrested today in Texas in a case involving a real Picasso and fake promises. Michael Jon Schofield, 60, was arrested in Dallas, TX, on a $50,000 warrant by the Dallas Police Department after authorities received a tip about his whereabouts. Schofield is charged with two felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of fictitious instruments, and faces a maximum of four years and four months in prison if convicted. Schofield will face extradition proceedings in Texas. The date is to be determined.
Schofield is accused of being put in contact with a Newport Beach resident, who owned an original Pablo Picasso sketch, by a third party familiar with the art industry. The artwork owner wanted to sell the sketch, valued at $200,000, and agreed to pay Schofield a 5 percent commission to find a buyer. Schofield is accused of taking the Picasso and agreeing to sell it on behalf of the owner.
After receiving the artwork, Schofield is accused of meeting victim Jeffrey Stokes at Keans coffee shop in Newport Beach. On May 24, 2007, the defendant is accused of falsely claiming to be the owner of the Picasso sketch to Stokes. Schofield is accused of telling Stokes that he was launching a new cable television program on art sales. He is accused of convincing Stokes to loan him $40,000 and giving him the Picasso as security for the loan.
In August of 2007, Stokes asked Schofield to help him move his art collection from one home to the other. Schofield is accused of agreeing to help and stealing the Picasso from the victim during the move.
On December 19, 2007, Schofield is accused of giving Stokes a bad $5,000 check under the guise of making an initial repayment for the $40,000 loan. When the victim went to cash the check, Schofield’s bank account had insufficient funds.
Schofield is accused of also meeting victim William Patton at Keans. Patton had an art collection and wanted to repair a valuable piece that was damaged. Schofield is accused of dropping off the painting to be repaired for Patton, and collecting $1,850 from Patton under the pretense that Schofield had prepaid for repair work when he had not.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Varner is prosecuting this case.