(CTN News) – On Monday, a former London and Miami art dealer Inigo Philbrick pleaded guilty to defrauding art buyers and others of over $86 million. He was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Inigo Philbrick, a U.S. citizen who lived in London, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court by Judge Sidney H. Stein. He was also ordered to forfeit $86 million.
During the course of a multi-year scheme to defraud individuals and entities in order to finance his art business, Phillip pleaded guilty last November to a single count of wire fraud. The prosecution said he committed the scheme by misrepresenting the ownership of certain artworks and selling more than 100% ownership to multiple individuals and entities without their knowledge.
According to U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Inigo Philbrick’s success as an art dealer came only after he collateralized and resold fractional shares of high-value contemporary art.
“His success was built on brazen lies, including concealed ownership interests, fake documents, and even an invented art collector,” Williams said. “When the house of cards collapsed, Inigo Philbrick fled to a remote island in the Pacific, leaving many of his victims without recourse. He now faces a lengthy prison term for his extensive fraud.”
A 1982 painting by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat titled “Humidity,” a 2010 untitled painting by the artist Christopher Wool, and a 2012 untitled painting by the artist Rudolf Stingel depicting Pablo Picasso were among the artworks used in the scheme, authorities said.
Jilted art buyers filed lawsuits, a lender notified him that he had defaulted on a $14 million loan, and he stopped responding to legal processes, prosecutors said.
After his art galleries in Miami and London closed in 2019, Inigo Philbrick fled the country and was arrested in Vanuatu in June 2020, where he had been living since October 2019, according to prosecutors.