Inigo Philbrick may be a thief, but at least he’s honest.
A former art dealer in London, who was He was sentenced to seven years in prison After pleading guilty to a criminal charge of electronic fraud, he didn’t hold back last year when a federal court judge in Manhattan asked why he defrauded customers of nearly $86 million.
“For the money, your honor.”
The 33-year-old will be jailed for cheating buyers and stealing multi-million dollar artworks by the likes of Donald Judd, Christopher Wall and Jean-Michel Basquiat. He was arrested in the South Pacific after a six-month manhunt by the FBI
“He has shown a complete lack of remorse,” Attorney Judd Grossman, who represents several clients in civil lawsuits linked to Philbrick, told The Post, though honestly.
For a while, the slippery dealer—born in Connecticut, educated in London—legally sold art from a gallery in that city’s Tony Mayfair neighborhood as well as in Miami.
But his aspirations grew faster than his wallet could keep up.
Philbrick wore $50,000 watches, $5,000 suits, and custom-made shoes. If you dined with him at Cipriani in London, there is no need to wait for the check; An antiques dealer keeps a home account.
His world was also one of high-flying: According to New York Magazine, Philbrick was reported to have Keep MDMA supplies on handrented a villa in Ibiza and became engaged to Victoria Baker-Harper, a British socialite and reality TV star.
“He needed cash to fund his business and thus fund his lifestyle. He has been moving up in his career but not as fast as necessary in order to maintain his lifestyle,” said Grossman, who practices in New York City and specializes in art-related issues.
That’s when Philbrick started defrauding customers with a host of scams. One of the cleverest: selling the same painting to several collectors – none of whom was aware of the interests of the others – before it was put up for auction.
In a letter to the court, the alleged victim Daniel Tomble – founder of Fine Art Partners, a company involved in funding the art world – stated that Philbrick came to visit him in Berlin on a private plane and was equipped with the tools. Around town in a limousine. Tumpel claims that he later saw bank statements showing that money paid to Philbrick to purchase the artwork was actually used to fund that exhilarating trip.
Take, for example, “The Mirror Room”, a work by the Japanese artist Yuyai Kusamawhich, as stated in a letter to the court, was purchased by Tumpel in 2017 for $2,310,000, which Philbrick intends to sell thereafter at a profit.
In 2018, Tumpel saw his “mirror room” hanging in the Philbrick Gallery during the Art Basel Miami Fair. Writing in a letter to the court over the next ten months, Tumpel led dealer Tumpel to believe he was “negotiating a potential sale of the Miami Museum,” Tumpel wrote. But “around November 2019 we found out that Philbrick sold the business in 2018 [after Art Basel] without informing us.”
According to the court letter, Tomball and his company were not paid.
After discovering Kusama’s sneaky sale, Tumpel and his wife, Loretta Wurtenberger, begin to worry about the whereabouts of another of their paintings, “Untitled 2010” by post-concept artist Christopher Wall. They paid $4,830,000 for the work, believing Philbrick would sell it to them. When they asked him about it, Philbrick insisted that the pain was with him—and he offered the famous type of proof used to check the vitals of kidnapping victims: he sent a picture of himself standing in front of the plaque and holding a newspaper that day. history on it.
Tumpel was satisfied at the time. Later, he claimed in the letter that he had found out the truth: “The painting in the photo was taken … and is no longer in Philbrick’s possession. [at the time]. They secured it for a loan from Athena Finance, who stored the painting in their warehouse.”
It is one of five plots that Philbrick allegedly used to obtain $15 million in loans. Tumpel wants his wool back and describes his former dealer as a “cold criminal.”
But it wasn’t always this way. Philbrick grew up in Connecticut, the distinguished son of Harry, the museum director who founded the nonprofit organization Contemporary Arts Philadelphia, and Jane, a self-described artist and entrepreneur. Philbrick, like his father, attended Goldsmith’s University of London, which focuses on art education. Harry released a statement saying he was “unaware” of his son’s excesses.
After graduating, Inigo took an internship with London art dealer and Goldsmith’s expert Jay Jopling, whose White Cube gallery became famous for sponsoring a career Damien Hirst. Although Jopling has now put space between himself and Philbrick, he once mentored the burgeoning dealer and provided financial support when Philbrick opened Mayfair Gallery in 2013. This gallery did well by focusing on the secondary art market – buying works by great artists Like Gayton Wade, Christopher Wall and Rudolph Stengel are collectors and sell them at a profit.
Philbrick has been a fixture at major auctions and happens to be a world of wondrous art. He was an expert. He wasn’t just a charlatan who knew nothing of art. “He had everything he needed to do a good job.”
But Philbrick’s victims claim he lacks integrity. He’s been involved in buying and promoting valuable artwork as partial investments: people own percentages of the work (and get potential profits from selling it) based on how much they invest. But as the deals progressed, Filbrick’s finances became strained and he began to skew the facts for investors. Sometimes he was selling more than 100% of the work and other times he was inflating prices.
Such was the case with Basquiat’s painting called “Moisture”. According to Grossman, prosecutors alleged that Philbrick approached antiques collector Alexander “Sasha” Pesco, who Grossman is now represented, to help buy the business for $18.4 million. The idea, Grossman said, “was for them to contribute to the purchase price and share any profit. Our client thought he put the half. Then Inigo said he was short on $3 million. Our client [ultimately] He offered $12 million and was defrauded [when Inigo] Turn it into an offshore entity and use it to borrow money. he lied. We prove that our customer owns the board because he put almost all of them [the purchase price]. Our argument is that you can’t pledge something you don’t own.”
Things finally fell apart for Philbrick when a painting by Rudolf Stengel, “Untitled,” was sold at Christie’s for $5.5 million. Allegedly, by multiple entities claiming to own the painting, Philbrick received about $10 million for the painting, and secretly sold percentages of it to several investors—one of whom offered for sale at Christie’s, believing he was the only owner. But soon others stepped forward, seeking their auction cuts. Civil lawsuits and criminal charges followed.
Pressure mounted on Philbrick, and according to an inside source, in the fall of 2019, two investors admitted to his crimes. “He knew he was going to be arrested,” the source said. “Confess to them in great detail.”
But by November of 2019, when a judge in London froze Philbrick’s assets, he was gone. According to the Department of Justice, “Flight records show that Philbrick left the United States shortly before public reporting on the lawsuits began.”
Federals tracked him to the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, about 500 miles west of Fiji, where he was living with a pregnant Baker-Harper. In June 2021, according to ArtNetWhile Philbrick and a friend were strolling an open-air market, local and international law enforcement officials surrounded the pair. They demanded to know if it was Inigo. He said he was beaten and officers tied his wrists with a zipper, put him in a car and took him to an airstrip. Philbrick’s last private flight was waiting for him: a Gulfstream plane transporting the fugitive to Guam where FBI agents held the disgraced merchant.
Dealer/art collector in Los Angeles Stefan Simchowitzwho “made a small deal with him [Philbrick] — for a $20,000 painting,” he told The Post, the dealer was “a young man who got over his head… and he was too cool for school.” He’s not an arch-criminal but a king idiot. “
“He always believed in a solution rather than facing the problem,” his fiancée wrote to the court.
Meanwhile, Philbrick’s attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, insists that the shiny veneer belies a more complex truth. “People look at Inigo and see what they consider to be a rich blue-blooded art dealer,” Lichtman told The Post. “They didn’t get the guy at all… His daughter was born while he was incarcerated. He still hasn’t met her. He suffers the way normal defendants don’t.”
Days before the sentencing, Grossman pondered how Philbrick could get away with his high-speed schemes: “He was very elegant, very clever, and very good at identifying investment opportunities. But he developed and abused relationships of trust and trust.”
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