A long awaited case against Atlanta art dealer Bill Lowe was resolved on Tuesday, April 18, when Lowe pleaded guilty to three criminal charges stemming from his withholding of payments to artists for the sale of their work. Lowe’s Buckhead gallery was raided in 2013 and his hard drives confiscated. An indictment didn’t come until September 4, 2015, when he was charged with owing $561,000 to more than a dozen artists.
As first reported on Project Q, “Lowe pleaded guilty to a single count of theft by conversion using an Alford plea, which allows a person to plead guilty but not admit to the criminal act while agreeing that the evidence is enough to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Lowe, 64, was sentenced to 10 years probation, including 750 hours of community service, and ordered to pay restitution of $256,514.19. He was facing up to 40 years in prison and a $1.2 million fine
The investigation covered sale between November 2001 and September 2015. Lowe had earlier faced civil cases for the same and similar acts, but this was the first time criminal charges were brought.
Apparently still in denial about the wrongness of his actions, Lowe was said to have hesitated to sign the plea deal and asked his attorneys if it was truly his best option. As recounted by Project Q, the delay caused Superior Court Judge Ural Glanville to press for action. During routine questions, Lowe hesitated before answering no when asked if he was being forced to enter his plea, and later said he was pleading guilty “because I have been advised it is in my best interest.”
The more than $256,000 Lowe owes the artists has been placed in an escrow account, and he has been ordered to return 39 pieces of art to the artists at his own expense. Lowe will also be required to seek approval for any travel outside of Georgia, which his attorneys strenuously, and unsuccessfully, resisted.
Read more about the wacky proceedings on Project Q.