Art dealer pleads guilty to wire fraud charges in $86 million scam

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Sunday, June 16, 2024


Art dealer pleads guilty to wire fraud charges in $86 million scam
Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956), Untitled. Price realised: USD 6,517,500. Christie's Images Ltd 2020.

by Colin Moynihan



NEW YORK, NY.- For years, Inigo Philbrick, a young art dealer with a gallery in the Mayfair district in London, was a brash fixture within the world of postwar and contemporary art.

Known for traveling on private jets, renting villas in Ibiza and wearing handmade Italian suits, he also was known to draw people into investing with him in paintings by blue-chip artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rudolf Stingel and Christopher Wool.

On Thursday, Philbrick appeared in ankle chains in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and pleaded guilty to wire fraud, acknowledging that he had duped people while conducting business as an art dealer in New York and other places.

“I knew that my actions were wrong and illegal,” he told Judge Sidney H. Stein, adding that he had been motivated by a desire for money.

As part of his plea Philbrick, 34, agreed to forfeit $86 million and all interest in a 1998 painting by Wool and a 2018 painting by Wade Guyton. He is scheduled to be sentenced in March and faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.

An American citizen who attended Goldsmiths, University of London, Philbrick was in his 20s when he opened a gallery and consultancy.

Philbrick specialized not in showing new works or guiding careers but in reselling, or “flipping,” a speculative form of art dealing in which investors buy ownership stakes in artworks and hope to profit when those items are sold.

The deceptions Philbrick was accused of perpetrating had their roots in the opacity of the resale market, where it can be difficult to verify how much works are bought and sold for. As a result, the value of shares in a piece of art is often based on little more than a dealer’s word.




“Inigo Philbrick was a serial swindler who took advantage of the lack of transparency in the art market to defraud art collectors, investors and lenders of more than $86 million to finance his art business and his lifestyle,” said Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

From about 2016-19, the complaint in Philbrick’s case said, he misled collectors and lenders and sometimes sold a total of more than 100% ownership in an artwork to multiple investors.

Prosecutors said he also furnished “fake and fraudulent sale and consignment contracts in order to artificially inflate the value of artworks and to conceal the discovery of his scheme.”

In 2016, for instance, Philbrick bought a 1982 Basquiat painting titled “Humidity,” paying $12.5 million in a private sale, prosecutors said. Philbrick later sold shares in the painting to two investors while presenting phony documents citing purchase prices of $18.4 million and $22 million, according to the complaint.

Philbrick was also accused of using the Basquiat painting as part of his collateral for millions of dollars in loans from Athena Art Finance Corp., an art lending business in New York, without disclosing the ownership interests of other investors in the work.

Prosecutors described similar problems with an untitled 2010 painting by Wool and an untitled 2012 painting by Stingel that depicted Pablo Picasso. In the latter case, Philbrick was accused of selling to unwitting investors shares in the painting that totaled more than 100%.

Philbrick’s scheme began to unravel in 2019 as investors learned that he had provided fraudulent documents related to the Stingel and the Basquiat.

By November, investors had filed lawsuits in connection with Philbrick’s activities. His gallery in Miami was shuttered. It appeared that he had vanished.

Then, in June 2020, Philbrick was arrested by U.S. law enforcement agents on the Pacific island of Vanuatu and transported to Guam. Prosecutors said that flight records showed that he had left the United States just before word of the lawsuits began to spread.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.










Today's News

November 20, 2021

Afrofuturist room at the Met redresses a racial trauma

Experience the brilliant colour, dynamic energy, and visual joy of Matisse this summer at the Art Gallery of NSW

Hindman Civil War Collection & American Historical Ephemera Auctions achieve over $1.6 million

Art dealer pleads guilty to wire fraud charges in $86 million scam

Hauser & Wirth announces representation of Camille Henrot

Design greats shine, modern & early 20th century sales achieve nearly $1.3 million

Sotheby's reveals buyer of record-breaking $43.2M Constitution

'Classical' Rome hosts first contemporary art fair

Roosevelt statue to head to presidential library in North Dakota

Photographer whose images helped define 70s rock dies at 72

Chrysler Museum of Art presents recent and promised gifts of art in fall exhibition

The Thornton Dial Estate joins Blum & Poe

Cuban protest anthem, salsa king Blades reign over Latin Grammys

An orchestra offers a novel view of music history

Japan's hit 'One Piece' anime marks 1,000th episode

Minerals collection of southern gentleman brings global shimmer to Heritage Auctions

New exhibitions open at the Asheville Art Museum

Dallas Museum of Art names Brad Pritchett Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

A hot rod before its time: Ford's Model A, with a boost

Bidders strike gold in Heritage Auctions' $1.2 million Fine Silver sale

Jazz at Lincoln Center reopens, with four young players in the spotlight

Betty Cuningham Gallery opens an exhibition of Philip Pearlstein's recent watercolors

Cryptocurrency group loses bid for copy of U.S. Constitution

Franco-Cameroon artist Fred Ebami explores African icons in pop-art

Best Free Online Movie Streaming Sites 2021

Know How Some Small Businesses Recovered in 2020 With an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Fire Safety Best Practices to Fire You Up About office Workplace Safety

10 Shocking Facts about Adobe Photoshop 2021




Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 



Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful