OAKLAND COUNTY, Mich. – Federal agents raided the home of a Oakland County Friday art gallery at Colony Hill Drive near 14 miles and Inkster Roads in Franklin.
Wendy Halsted Beard is accused of misleading clients on more than 100 extremely valuable prints.
Beard took over her father’s camera shop in Birmingham, where she had a store. It was closed during the pandemic, so she conducted business at home.
FBI Officers from the Financial Crimes Task Force and Art Theft Units spent Friday, October 14 entering and exiting Beard’s home. They arrived in force at 7 a.m. with guns drawn and called out to her and her husband through a megaphone.
The police immediately arrested her and released a 24-page criminal complaint while explaining the case:
“More than 100 rare fine art photographs with an estimated combined value of approximately $1.6 million have been identified as consigned to Beard and not returned or sold to victims without being delivered. Beard victims are usually seniors.
The images come from various photographers, none more famous than Ansel Adams. Adams’ photo titled Grand Tetons and the Snake River is the most valuable as it is worth $900,000.
Beard agreed to sell it and did so for about half its value and when the owner tried to get it back, the FBI said she was missing, offering a bold excuse via a falsified email account:
“Wendy (Beard) had her double lung transplant and was a little risky, but hopefully they will remove the vent and bring her in this afternoon or tomorrow.”
Eventually, the 82-year-old victim turned himself in to Birmingham Police Department. The same pattern developed with other victims, and Beard twice claimed she was unreachable for another bizarre reason using a fake email account:
“On the computer at last. It was a crazy last bit. Not all gone but at least out of the coma of several months. Nice to see the sun. Sorry if short later.
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