Kenneth Walton (writer)
Walton in July 2006
|Born||Kenneth Andrew Walton
November 23, 1967 (age 47)
Sacramento, California, U.S.
|Occupation||attorney, businessman, memoirist|
|Subject||true crime, internet fraud|
Kenneth Andrew Walton (born November 23, 1967) is an American software developer and author of the memoir Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay, which details his time spent selling forged art on the online auction site eBay. He currently lives in San Francisco, California.
In 1999 and 2000 Walton was working as an attorney in Sacramento, California, and selling art on eBay, using more than 40 online aliases to drive up bidding on hundreds of his paintings.
On April 28, 2000 he posted an auction on eBay for an oil painting that attracted a closing bid of US$135,805 and which bidders speculated might be a work by Richard Diebenkorn due to its resemblance to the artist's work, the existence of the monogram "RD52" on the canvas, and the fact that the seller claimed to have found it at a garage sale in Berkeley, California, where Diebenkorn had lived. In the description accompanying the auction, Walton seemed to have no knowledge of art and claimed to have no idea of the painting's value. The auction generated international headlines and, after a series of investigative reports by Judith H. Dobrzynski in the New York Times revealed that Walton was in fact an experienced art seller who had sold several forged paintings and worked with other sellers who bid on each other's items, Walton was banned from eBay, and the FBI launched an investigation into his trading activities.
In April 2001, US authorities charged Walton and two accomplices, Kenneth Fetterman and Scott Beach, with bidding on their own auctions, the first-ever prosecution for so-called "shill bidding" on the Internet. Walton cooperated with the prosecutors, admitted he had forged Richard Diebenkorn's initials onto the painting that he had auctioned on eBay, and pleaded guilty in exchange for leniency. He relinquished his law license and in 2004 he was sentenced to nine months of probation and was required to pay $74,232 in restitution to victims.
After being charged, Walton went on to found the software company HammerTap, and developed DeepAnalysis, the first eBay market research application. In 2004, after eBay discovered Walton's connection with HammerTap and refused the company permission to take eBay direct data feeds, Walton sold the company to Utah-based Bright Builders.
In April 2006 Simon Spotlight Entertainment, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, published Walton's first book, Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay, a memoir of the eBay scandal and its aftermath. The book has been reviewed by The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, The Sacramento Bee, and Publishers Weekly.
- Fake: Forgery, Lies, & eBay (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2006) ISBN 1-4169-0711-4
- Published in the UK in 2006 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 0-297-85188-8
FAKE: Forgery, Lies, & eBay is a memoir by Kenneth Walton that describes how he sold forged paintings on the online auction website eBay, and details the high-profile scandal that led to him being convicted for fraud by the federal government.
- F.B.I. Opens Investigation of EBay Bids, New York Times, June 7, 2000
- Two eBay sellers enter guilty pleas, CNET News.com, April 17, 2001.
- California eBay scam artist sent to federal prison, USA Today, May 27, 2004.
- One life rebounds after eBay art scam, Sacramento Bee, May 5, 2006
- A brush with the law, The Guardian, August 2, 2006
- Dobrzynsk, Judith H. (May 9, 2000). "EBay Art Auction May or May Not Be Modern Classic". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Dobrzynsk, Judith H. (May 10, 2000). "Online Seller of Abstract Work Adds a Money-Back Guarantee". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Dobrzynsk, Judith H. (May 11, 2000). "EBay Cancels Sale in Auction of Abstract Painting". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Dobrzynsk, Judith H. (June 2, 2000). "In Online Auctions, Rings of Bidders". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Dobrzynsk, Judith H. (June 7, 2000). "F.B.I. Opens Investigation of EBay Bids". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Wolverton, Troy (April 17, 2001). "Two eBay sellers enter guilty pleas". CNET News.com. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Melley, Brian (May 27, 2004). California "eBay scam artist sent to federal prison". USA Today. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Tedeschi, Bob (March 1, 2004). "EBay Seller Of Fake Artwork Again Upsets The Auction Site". The New York Times. Retrieved May 7, 2010.
- Spalding, Frances (August 27, 2006). "How we've been framed". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Glaister, Dan (August 2, 2006). "A brush with the law". The Guardian. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Robertson, Blair A. (May 5, 2006). "One life rebounds after eBay art scam". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on January 7, 2007. Retrieved February 12, 2011.
- Smith, Darrell (July 30, 2011). "Sacramento's KlickNation rises on wave of social media gaming". Sacramento Bee. Archived from the original on April 9, 2013. Retrieved April 23, 2013.
- Eldon, Eric (December 2, 2011). "EA Adds Social Game Studio For Hardcore Players With KlickNation Acquisition". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 5, 2012.