Inigo Philbrick Defrauded Investors and Lenders Out Of More Than $20 Million In Connection With Works by Notable Contemporary Artists
Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of a Complaint in Manhattan federal court charging INIGO PHILBRICK, an art dealer specializing in post-war and contemporary fine art, with galleries in London, United Kingdom, and Miami, Florida, with engaging in a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to finance his art business. In total, PHILBRICK allegedly fraudulently obtained more than $20 million as a result of the scheme.
Federal law enforcement agents took PHILBRICK into custody yesterday in Vanuatu, after Vanuatu authorities expelled PHILBRICK from Vanuatu at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea in light of the charges in the Complaint. PHILBRICK was then transported to Guam, where he is expected to be presented in federal court on June 15, 2020.
U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said: “As alleged, Inigo Philbrick was a serial swindler who misled art collectors, investors, and lenders out of more than $20 million. You can’t sell more than 100 percent ownership in a single piece of art, which Philbrick allegedly did, among other scams. When his schemes began to unravel, Philbrick allegedly fled the country. Now he is in U.S. custody and facing justice.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Mr. Philbrick allegedly sought out high-dollar art investors, sold pieces he didn’t own, and played games with millions of dollars in other people’s money. The game ended when investors began wondering where their money went. Hats off to the FBI NY Joint Major Theft Task Force/Art Crime Team who worked diligently to track down Mr. Philbrick and bring him back to the U.S., where, if convicted, he might have to trade in his jet-set life for a drab federal prison cell.”
PHILBRICK, 33, a U.S. citizen previously residing in London, United Kingdom, and a fugitive since October 2019, was charged in the Complaint with one count of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft. The wire fraud charge carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison.
To report information related to this case, please contact the FBI’s Art Crime Team at NYArtCrime@fbi.gov.
The allegations in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
Read the full statement here.
The Complaint was unsealed on June 12 in Manhattan federal court.