A dealer accused of defrauding dealers and investors out of millions of dollars, was sentenced to seven years in prison by a New York court today, May 23, bringing a saga that has taken the art world by storm to an end, reports ART News.
Last November, about a year after being detained by the US authorities on the island of Vanuatu, the 34-year-old dealer pleaded guilty to wire fraud. He had also been indicted on identity theft charges. As part of the plea deal, Inigo Philbrick forfeited $86 million and two paintings.
Philbrick first faced the allegations in 2019, when deep-pocketed members of art firms raised concerns over his dubious deals involving artworks worth millions of dollars. According to authorities, Philbrick defrauded dealers, investors, and collectors out of vast sums of money. Investigators have also said he sold works without first telling those who owned them.
The first case to emerge against Philbrick centered around a Yayoi Kusama “Infinity Room” installation and other works that Philbrick allegedly withheld from a German art firm. Another suit brought by a separate art firm focused on a Rudolf Stingel painting that was once valued at more than $6 million, ART news reported.
Asked why he behaved in the way he did by Judge Stein, Philbrick responded, “Vanity and greed…. I tried to lead a life that wasn’t true.” The sentence Philbrick was given was below the recommended minimum sentence of 121 months, or just over 10 years.
In a statement read aloud to the court, Philbrick expressed “remorse and sorrow for the damage” that he had caused to those around him. He said that he had been in solitary confinement when his daughter.