An ex-art student who worked alongside artist Tracey Emin has been jailed for 16 months for forging her work.Jonathan Rayfern, 32, was jailed by a judge at Manchester Crown Court after he admitted 10 counts of fraud and one of deception.His defence said the fakes were made to pay off loan sharks.The artist said her art came from the heart and she was “upset and distressed” that people had been conned.The fakes, valued at more than £25,000, included sketches on fabric and a pencil drawing on calico, sold on the eBay website.The court heard Rayfern, of Ellesmere Street, Manchester, sold at least 11 fake items for £26,000.The former art student at Westminster University had worked alongside Emin for two weeks at her London gallery, studying how she produced her work “at the master’s hand”.Rayfern, who also worked at a Vivienne Westwood shop in London, was a man “beguiled by art, beauty and celebrity”, the court heard.He claimed Emin was a personal friend on Facebook and boasted of visiting London’s Groucho Club with the artist.Jailing Rayfern, Judge Martin Rudland said: “It may be you are a skilled artist yourself, but there is a streak of dishonesty in you. There may well be an element of the fantasist about you, but the reality has come home to roost.”Rayfern sold 10 items via eBay to gallery owner Alan Elkin, from Warwick, including a sketch with the words, “I’m not broken just slightly damaged”, in Emin’s forged signature and dated 1988, which was bought for £1,250.
Tracey Emin Tracey Emin said her art was ‘very personal’
A second victim, Kevin Finch, paid £5,000 for a mono print drawing on calico with the sketch of a small bird and the words, “Do you know how to forget”.Andrew Hill, defending, said Rayfern was interested in art and artists, and had his own genuine collection of Emin works worth £16,000, purchased while he was an art student.But he began forging Emin’s work to pay off loan sharks he had borrowed money from to make a video of an art project.
He did not to sell his own Emin collection because of his “acute” interest in her work and the “joy” it gave him.A statement from Emin said: “My artwork is deeply personal and comes from my heart. It hurts and distresses me to see these fakes and forgeries that have no regard, respect or understanding of what I do.”With a view to others, I am upset and distressed to think that people have been conned – Bbc