Notorious dealer Inigo Philbrick explains why he’s angering the art world

Inigo Philbrick, art world who allegedly fled to Vanuatu last year when his plot was unraveled, pleaded guilty to one count of electricity fraud in federal court on Thursday — and his attorney argued that “a sick industry” is the cause.

The disgraced dealer, who is engaged to a British reality TV star, took more than $86 million and a deposit on two works of art, and he could face more than one decade in prison.

“I know that my actions were wrong and illegal,” Philbrick said in a statement he read aloud in court.

Prosecutors have charged Philbrick with phone fraud and identity theft, alleging that he deceived investors by selling more than 100 percent ownership stakes in works of art and secrets. secretly used artwork as collateral for loans without telling other owners and tried to cover up his crimes with bogus papers.

In a Manhattan courtroom, he admitted to fraud, which he said he operated from 2016 to 2019.

Prosecutors say that if the case goes to trial, they will provide a variety of evidence to substantiate their case, including emails and text messages, bank records, contracts and testimony from prosecutors. many victims.

Judge Sidney Stein said sentencing guidelines call for a jail term of 121 to 151 months, but Philbrick could receive a sentence outside that range on March 18. Stein added that Philbrick, 34, will have to accept serve the entire term of his sentence, without the possibility of pardon.

In a statement, his attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said, “Inigo accepts full responsibility for his actions today and will pay for his crimes for the rest of his life.

“Although his actions were dishonest and criminal in nature, he is part of a sick top-down industry where this type of behavior is very common. With that said, he apologizes to his victims and will do all he can to make them whole.”

Philbrick’s decline began in 2019, when one of his paintings was worth significantly less than he was expecting at auction, which put his client under scrutiny. closely.

One client, the German firm Fine Art Partners, eventually filed a lawsuit claiming that Philbrick had refused to return works of art in its possession. Other allegations soon followed.

It was clear in the art world that it was quickly realized that one of the youngest bookmakers in the industry was playing the financial game.

Meanwhile, Philbrick fled to Vanuatu, the South Pacific country, where he played tennis and rented a house on the beach. It was only a few months before he was arrested and transferred back to the United States.

During Thursday’s proceedings, Judge Stein asked Philbrick to explain why he committed the fraud.

His response: “Your money, your honor.” Notorious dealer Inigo Philbrick explains why he’s angering the art world


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