U.S. Attorney Damian Williams announced Monday that a former fine art dealer was sentenced to seven years in prison for an extensive conspiracy to swindle multiple people and businesses out of millions of dollars to fund his art company.
Inigo Philbrick, 34, ran his plan from around 2016 to 2019, officials claimed, collecting around $86 million in loans and sale revenues for his business, which included galleries in London, Miami, and the United Kingdom.
In order to gain access to priceless art, funds, and a loan, Philbrick would commit substantial misrepresentations and omissions to art collectors, investors, and lenders.
Authorities claim that Philbrick willfully misrepresented the ownership of certain art pieces by selling a total of more than 100% ownership in artwork to various people and entities without their knowledge. He’d also sell artworks or use them as collateral for loans without telling the co-owners or disclosing third-party ownership interests to buyers and lenders.
To inflate the worth of the artworks and hide his plan, Philbrick created bogus contracts and documents for investors. According to court documents, one contract listed a stolen identity as the seller.
A 1982 artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat titled “Humidity,” a 2010 nameless painting by Christopher Wool, and an untitled 2012 painting by Rudolf Stingel representing Pablo Picasso were all included in Philbrick’s design.
Philbrick’s strategy began to come to light in 2019. Some investors and lenders were made aware of Philbrick’s falsified paperwork and serious misrepresentations and omissions. Around the middle of October, one of Philbrick’s investors notified him that he had defaulted on a $14 million debt. Other investors had brought civil cases against Philbrick in other jurisdictions by November.
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Philbrick’s Miami and London art galleries collapsed about the same time the lawsuits started coming in, and he stopped responding to the legal process. Philbrick emigrated to Vanuatu and lived there until his arrest in June 2020.
“Inigo Philbrick allegedly expanded his ostensibly successful art firm by collateralizing and marketing fractional shares in high-end modern art,” Williams explained. “Unfortunately, his success was based on outright lies, such as hidden ownership interests, forged documents, and even a made-up art collector.” When the house of cards crumbled, Philbrick fled to a distant island in the Pacific, abandoning many of his victims. Philbrick has been condemned to a lengthy prison sentence for his vast fraud.”
Philbrick was also given two years of supervised release in addition to his prison sentence. In addition, he will be required to pay $86,672,790.