Seeing double in a double life

Published November 18, 2006

Matthew Cox, the former Tampa mortage broker who was the alleged mastermind of a multimillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, dazzled women with his talent as a painter.

But Cox, who assumed multiple identities over the years, apparently can't resist assuming someone else's identity when it comes to painting, either.

When he was arrested Thursday in Nashville, Cox's girlfriend and business partner, Amanda Gardner, said his artistic accomplishments were one of the things that attracted her. A former girlfriend in Tampa said the same thing.

The art deco mural he painted in a restored Nashville bungalow he shared with Gardner was nearly identical to murals in his triplex in Tampa.

Both are strikingly accurate copies of two paintings by Polish-born art deco portraitist Tamara de Lempicka 1898-1980, who led a double life of her own. The man in the overcoat is de Lempicka's husband, Tadeusz Lempicki , as she painted him in 1928; the woman in white is Portrait of Ira P., painted in 1925 and depicting one of her many female lovers.

Colette Bancroft can be reached at (727) 893-8435 or bancroft@sptimes.com