Convicted Con Man Accused Of Stealing Degas Sculpture

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

A convicted con man was charged yesterday with stealing a $600,000 bronze sculpture of a dancer by Edgar Degas from a wealthy collector by masquerading as an art aficionado.

Thomas Doyle appeared in court to face charges of grand larceny and possession of stolen property but did not enter a plea because he didn’t have a lawyer. The case was adjourned until August 10.

The defendant already was in federal custody for violating his supervised release in a $200,000 jewelry swindle in Tennessee. While on the run in that case in 2004, he settled in Manhattan, where he won the trust of s 73-year-old collector, Norman Alexander, by convincing him he was related to a renowned art dealer, Sir Joseph Duveen, prosecutors said. Doyle “was a very talented con man,” District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said.

The collector, who was considering selling his town house and art collection, agreed to let Doyle take the Degas bronze to have it authenticated, prosecutors said. The 19-inch-tall piece by the French impressionist, who died in 1917, is titled “Danseuse Regardant la Plante de son Pied Droit,” or “Dancer Looking at the Sole of her Right Foot.”

Prosecutors say Doyle secretly sold the sculpture to an antiques dealer for $225,000 in early 2005. For the next several months he stonewalled the collector, telling him that the piece was with a California expert, then that it had been damaged and was being repaired, prosecutors said.

The New York Sun

© 2023 The New York Sun Company, LLC. All rights reserved.

Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The material on this site is protected by copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used.

The New York Sun

Sign in or  Create a free account

By continuing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use