Gallery owner pays half-million in restitution for art theft

Lowe

William “Bill” Lowe, owner of the Bill Lowe Gallery in Buckhead, has paid back more nearly $500,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to stealing the commissions of 11 artists over a decade.

According to a statement from the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Lowe, 63, has submitted his final payment of restitution to the DA’s office, which will send the restitution checks to each artist. Lowe was sentenced on April 18 for stealing the commission of artists he represented both in the United States and Europe. Lowe pled guilty to a single charge of felony theft by conversion.

In 2012 an artist in New York, Donald Sultan, reported to the Atlanta Police Department that Lowe, an internationally recognized art dealer, stole over $10,000 from him. The artist had entrusted numerous paintings to Lowe and his gallery to sell on his behalf. Lowe sold at least three of his paintings but never paid the artist for the sales.

The APD’s Major Fraud Unit conducted an investigation that proved for well over a decade Lowe stole over a half-million dollars from at least 11 artists by selling their works of art and pocketing the artists’ portion of the proceeds. Financial and other records obtained by the police show that Lowe sold dozens and dozens of paintings and used the money due the artists to fund what appeared to be a lavish and successful lifestyle. Additionally, Lowe used the money to fund his gallery.

Bank statements collected during the investigation revealed that in a three year time span, Lowe used money from the gallery’s operating account to make $69,000 worth of mortgage payments, spent $3,500 to maintain a property in North Carolina, and withdrew $170,000 for personal use. Under Georgia Law, Lowe is required to pay the artist before using the proceeds to pay for any of his expenses. The Fulton County District Attorney’s White Collar Crime Unit spent several years in its investigation and prosecution of the thefts committed by Lowe.

After Lowe’s sentencing, one of the artists shared his thankfulness with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office.

“I just wanted to thank you for staying with this case and seeing that justice has been served. In addition to the money, I am pleased that Lowe will be held responsible and not able to take advantage of his artists again,” said Mark Perlman.

Lowe acknowledged his wrongdoing in a written statement before Fulton County Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville.

“I acknowledge that artists relied upon me to receive payment from the proceeds of sales from the artwork. I further acknowledge that I did not fully reimburse the artists in a timely fashion as required. Finally, I am making all of the artists whole and I am glad to be able to do so at this time,” said Lowe.

Following Lowe’s guilty plea, Judge Glanville sentenced the defendant to 10 years probation. Lowe was required to pay $256,514.92 upfront into an escrow account for full remaining restitution to these artists, and he must successfully complete 750 hours of community service.

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