A lawyer for the Melbourne art dealer who sold Brett Whiteley forgeries for millions says his client shouldn't go to prison while an appeal is processed.
Passing off a painting as the work of acclaimed artist Brett Whiteley is no different to selling a fake Rolex, lawyers in Victoria's biggest art fraud case say.
The barrister for art dealer Peter Standley Gant, Trevor Wraight, has told a pre-sentence hearing his client should not be "punished more" simply because of the notoriety surrounding his case.
Gant was found guilty of obtaining financial advantage by deception and attempting to obtain financial advantage by deception, along with art conservator Mohamed Amen Siddique, who created three fake Whiteley paintings in his Collingwood studio between 2007-2009.
The 60-year-old Gant facilitated the sale of Big Blue Lavender Bay for $2.5 million and Orange Lavender Bay for $1.1 million, and made a third fake painting, Through the Window, available for sale for $950,000.
They were represented as the work of Brett Whiteley, who died in 1992.
"It's no different to someone selling something and saying, 'It's a Rolex', when it's not," Mr Wraight said on Thursday.
Mr Wraight also told the Victorian Supreme Court media reports of the long-running proceedings had destroyed the reputation of Gant, who had made a significant contribution to cultural life in Australia, and now would never work again.
"His reputation has been ruined," Mr Wraight said.
"This amounts to extra-curial punishment."
Remy van de Wiel, for Siddique, said his client had also suffered.
"After charges were laid, Mr Siddique's business was in tatters."
Mr Wraight told the court he would apply for a stay of the sentence for his client.
There is a "strong argument" against the jury's verdict, he said.
"We say it is an exceptional circumstance that these men should go to jail when there's a powerful argument against the jury's verdict," Mr Wraight said.
Justice Michael Croucher said: "Every person thinks they have a good argument against conviction."
"We say this is better than a good argument," Mr Wraight replied.
The men will be sentenced at a later date.