A world-acclaimed artist who blindfolded and sexually abused young girls as they posed for his paintings was today found guilty of a string of child sex offences.
Graham Ovenden, 70, covered his victims’ eyes with tape and made them parade in Victorian nighties before subjecting them to sick assaults.
He invited the girls to his studio and made oil paintings and took photographs – while also abusing them.
Much of his work, including portraits of children, has been displayed at venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
He was found guilty of four charges of indecency against four victims at Truro Crown Court in Cornwall.
Before the verdict his work of young girls from 1970 still appeared on The Tate Gallery’s website – but a spokesman said it was still considering whether to remove it.
Ramsay Quaife, prosecuting, said Ovenden abused the youngsters and took pictures of them when they stayed overnight at his homes near Bodmin, Cornwall, and London.
He said: “What we say is that Mr Ovenden is a paedophile, that is a sexual abuser of children, and we say in this case the target of his abuse was young girls.”
Ovenden was not in court to hear the verdicts because he said he had fallen ill over the weekend and was rushed to hospital.
He was also cleared of three charges of indecent assault on the direction of Judge Graham Cottle.
Ovenden was accused of molesting four children aged from six to 14 who posed for him between 1972 and 1985.
The four victims made formal complaints to police in the late 2000s and the pensioner was arrested in 2008.
When officers confronted Ovenden he boasted of his reputation in the art world and said he had painted some of the “best portraits of children in the last 200 years”.
He dismissed the case as a witch-hunt and said there was “no shame” in pictures of nude children.
But Mr Quaife told jurors that Ovenden had a “sexual appetite for children that went beyond art”.
The jury was yesterday (Tues) still considering five remaining charges – three of indecent assault and two of indecency with a child.