|For Immediate Release
Case # 08HF0204 March 4, 2008
|Susan Kang Schroeder
Public Affairs Counsel
NEWPORT BEACH ARTIST CONVICTED
IN PICASSO SKETCH SCAM
NEWPORT BEACH – A Newport Beach artist was convicted today in a case involving a real Picasso and fake promises. Michael Jon Schofield, 60, pleaded guilty to the court to two felony counts of grand theft and one felony count of fictitious instruments. He was sentence to three years formal probation and 300 days in jail.
Schofield was 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 took the Picasso and agreed to sell it on behalf of the owner.
After receiving the artwork, Schofield met victim Jeffrey Stokes at Keans coffee shop in Newport Beach. On May 24, 2007, the defendant falsely claimed to be the owner of the Picasso sketch to Stokes. Schofield told Stokes that he was launching a new cable television program on art sales. He convinced Stokes to loan him $40,000 and gave 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 agreed to help and stole the Picasso from the victim during the move.
On December 19, 2007, Schofield gave 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 also met victim William Patton at Keans. Patton had an art collection and wanted to repair a valuable piece that was damaged. Schofield dropped off the painting to be repaired for Patton, and collected $1,850 from Patton under the pretense that Schofield had prepaid for repair work when he had not.
The defendant was arrested in Dallas, TX, on February 1, 2008 on a $50,000 warrant by the Dallas Police Department after authorities received a tip about his whereabouts. He was brought back to Orange County on February 5, 2008 to face charges.
Deputy District Attorney Nicole Varner prosecuted this case.