During the golden age of eBay, before the dot-com crash, thousands of gullible, optimistic bidders went online in droves, ready to spend cash on unseen paintings they hoped might be by well known artists. An unpoliced marketplace where millions of dollars changed hands every week, eBay was the perfect place for con artists to practice their craft. Ripped from the headlines of the New York Times, Fake takes readers from the innocent beginnings of Ken Walton's online art-trading hobby to the federal felony conviction that would rock the eBay universe. It's a fascinating true account set against the most active - and most treacherous - art market in the world, and populated by unforgettable characters, including the master manipulator who showed Walton how easily big bucks could be swindled from naive bidders, the wealthy Dutch software tycoon who bought hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of unvetted art on eBay, and the dealer whose avarice led him to participate in a massive scam.
In a riveting narrative shaded with honesty and regret, Walton recounts the events that turned him from a low-profile lawyer into an Internet fraudster without a conscience, and he provides a captivating commentary on the e-marketplace, the art world and human greed.
Kenneth Walton was a lawyer until he became an eBay art trader in December 1998. Over time his online sales tactics grew increasingly fraudulent, culminating in the $135,858 sale of a forged Richard Diebenkorn painting in May 2000. The story of this infamous auction, first broken by an investigative report published in the New York Times, ultimately resulted in his prosecution by the federal government for placing shill bids. He was sentenced in June 2004 and now lives in Sacramento, California.