Tiffany expert indicted on 5 countsBy Mark Chervenka
Tiffany expert indicted on 5 counts
Alastair Duncan, noted expert and author on the products of Louis Comfort Tiffany, was indicted May 18, 1999 in a Manhattan, New York district court for allegedly buying and selling Tiffany windows stolen from cemeteries and mausoleums.
Duncan, 57, is a former vice-president of Christie's where he also served as department head of Art Nouveau and Art Deco.
The indictment alleges Duncan bought a Tiffany window in 1998 through a middleman who told Duncan the window was stolen. Court papers identify the window as a nine foot leaded glass panel taken in 1992 from a mausoleum at Salem Fields cemetery in New York City. Despite knowing the window was stolen, Duncan is accused of buying the window and selling it for $219,000 to a buyer in Japan.
The indictment further alleges that in December 1998, Duncan contacted the thief who stole the first window about the possibility of stealing another window for a second foreign buyer. A window at the Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York was supposedly the target but the theft fell through.
Duncan faces two counts of conspiracy to transport stolen property to foreign countries and one count each of transporting stolen property, witness tampering and structuring a currency transaction to evade reporting requirements. If convicted, Duncan could receive up to 35 years in prison.
Duncan's books Tiffany Windows, 1980 and Tiffany at Auction, 1981 are considered standard references on the subject. His books on similar subjects Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lighting and Art Nouveau Furniture are also highly respected.
Editor's Note: At the time it was written, Duncan's Tiffany Windows included one of the most complete listings of structures which still had their original Tiffany windows. For more information on Tiffany windows created for cemeteries and mausoleums, also see Lost Treasures of Louis Comfort Tiffany, by Hugh McKean.