FBI hears from possible victims of art dealer pocketing $1.6M
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (FOX 2) - Minnesota Attorney Frederic "Fritz" Knaak represents an art collector there who saw FOX 2's story on Halsted Beard - the art dealer whose Franklin home was raided by the FBI on Friday.
"He had about $30,000 worth of Ansel Adams photographs," Knaak said.
His client had been trying for months to get Beard to return two Ansel Adams photographs she was supposed to be selling for him.
"Thanks to your story, we got this incredible, incredibly familiar-sounding patent," Knaak said. "I suspect there may be any number of other victims of this in other parts of the country."
The FBI said the pattern involved Wendy Halsted Beard of the Halsted Gallery being given rare photographs to sell on consignment and then never delivering the cash. Instead, she claimed she had health issues ranging from a coma to a double lung transplant to keep clients at bay all while pocketing the money.
"It was amazing to see the numbers. I think you pointed out it was $1.6 million total and my client had a small part of that," Knaak said.
READ MORE: Franklin woman's home raided in $1.6M art scheme
Knaak told FOX 2 that Beard was trusted by this community of rare photograph collectors.
"These collectors… they know each other. They go to the same kind of social gatherings," Knaak said. "Miss Halsted was very much in the middle of that, was part of that, was very friendly about that, and had done I think other sales for him in the past so she was fully trusted."
According to the FBI, she betrayed that trust… sometimes preying on the elderly, someone with Alzheimer's, friends, and even a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.
The FBI said they've been contacted by multiple potential victims since the home was raided on Friday. Evidence was taken from the home as well as a gallery in Florida where she leased a space.
Knaak and his client are hoping his Ansel Adams photographs are now with the feds.
"Now, he can sort of hope ‘maybe mine is one of those few photographs she didn’t sell'. We can always hope," Knaak said.