Wilton Man Admits Operating Art Fraud Scheme
Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, today announced that NICHOLAS P. HATCH, 29, of Wilton, waived his right to be indicted and pleaded guilty yesterday before U.S. District Judge Sarala V. Nagala in Hartford to a fraud offense stemming from a scheme involving the sale of counterfeit paintings.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Hatch was the owner of Hatch Estate Services LLC, an estate sales company based in Norwalk. Between approximately April 2020 and January 2022, Hatch used various websites, including Estatesales.org, a website specializing in estate sales and auctions, to offer for sale purported paintings by the artist Peter Max. Hatch, who knew that the paintings were not authentic Peter Max paintings, used multiple aliases when interacting with purchasers through email during the sale process, and he made various representations as to the paintings’ authenticity, including providing certificates of the works’ authenticity.
Through this scheme, Hatch sold 145 fraudulent Peter Max paintings and defrauded 43 purchasers out of a total of $248,600.
Hatch pleaded guilty to mail fraud, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years. Judge Nagala scheduled sentencing for October 30.
Hatch was arrested on a criminal complaint on May 9, 2023. He has been detained since July 14, 2023, after he violated the conditions of pre-trial release.
This investigation has been conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher W. Schmeisser.