July 18, 2006

New York con man accused of stealing Degas bronze

By Jeanne King

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A convicted con artist was indicted in
Manhattan on Tuesday on charges of stealing a Degas sculpture
worth about $600,000 from a wealthy art collector and arranging
to sell it.

Thomas Doyle, 49, was accused of grand larceny and criminal
possession of stolen property for taking the Degas bronze of a
dancer looking at the sole of her right foot and titled
"Danseuse Regardant le Plant de son Pied Droit."

He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors said Doyle stole the Degas from its owner,
Norman Alexander, 74, using a ruse that he intended to have the

Posing as a member of a prominent family of art dealers and
collectors, Doyle gained the confidence of Alexander, who
wanted to sell his art collection and townhouse on Manhattan's
upper east side, and offered to find him a buyer.

Doyle took the Degas under the pretext of having it
authenticated and arranged to sell it to an antique dealer for
$225,000, according to the indictment filed by Manhattan
District Attorney Robert Morgenthau.

When Alexander asked for the bronze to be returned, Doyle
stalled him and told him the piece had been damaged in transit.
Alexander eventually notified the police.

"He's a very talented con man," Morgenthau said of Doyle,
who was convicted in February 2000 of transporting stolen goods
in a $200,000 swindle of a Tennessee woman and served two years
in prison.

Doyle was arraigned in Manhattan Supreme Court but did not
enter a plea. He was remanded to a federal facility until an
August 10 hearing.