AN ART expert from Somerset who used a "lifetime of knowledge" to forge valuable art prints which he sold or attempted to sell at auction through a Crewkerne auction house, has avoided jail.

Sheridan Tandy, 68, a former university lecturer from Curry Mallet was given a six month suspended sentence at Southwark Crown Court last Monday, December 7, after admitting to forging a number of art prints.

Tandy used his expertise and years working as a lecturer in print and art to produce the forged ‘Grosvenor School’ prints, known as linocuts.

In March 2015, the Met’s Art & Antiques Unit was contacted by an art expert at Bonham’s Auction House.

The expert was concerned that three linocuts she had received for valuation were in fact forgeries.

They appeared to be so recent that they still smelt of paint. The provenance provided for the prints was also disjointed and irregular.

As genuine artworks, the three linocuts would have had a combined value of over £6,000.

Police enquiries revealed that another linocut had been consigned to Sotherby’s Auction House on the same day.

In October 2014, police established that Tandy sold four ‘Grosvenor School’ prints through his local auction house, Lawrence's of Crewkerne.

His net profit from this sale was over £5,000.

Officers from the Met’s Art & Antiques Unit subsequently attended Tandy’s address, where he was arrested on suspicion of fraud.

He admitted the offences, stating that he produced the prints to sell, as he was short of money.

DC Ray Swan, of the Met’s Art & Antiques unit, said: "Tandy is a retired academic and art lecturer who used a lifetime of knowledge and expertise within the art market to produce forged linocut prints, some of which he managed to sell.

“The Met's Art & Antiques unit works closely with London auction houses, museums and galleries to ensure that genuine collectors are not defrauded in this way."