Art dealer Inigo Philbrick was arrested on the Pacific island of Vanuatu on Thursday by U.S. law enforcement. The 33-year-old, who is behind an alleged $20 million fraud scheme, was transported to Guam where he will appear in federal court on June 15, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney’s office of the Southern District of New York.
Allegedly on the run since last fall when his scheme began to unravel, including a cascade of lawsuits and accusations of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, Philbrick once was a rising star in the contemporary art world with galleries in New York and Miami.
Among the alleged scams, Philbrick is accused of selling more than 100 percent ownership in a Rudolf Stingel artwork to multiple entities, and he is accused of a fake auction guarantee for the work. (Click here for more on the mind-boggling backstory surrounding works by the likes of Donald Judd, Yayoi Kusama, Wade Guyton, and others.)
Among those affected, art dealer-writer Kenny Schachter wrote on Instagram, in part: "...that such a bright and talented person would be blinded by greed and hubris and implode so spectacularly is a shame. I would be shocked if I managed to see a dime back, and bet some works he squirreled away will be buried in perpetuity— or until he eventually gets out of jail."
Schachter added, "I have no doubt, in this hypocritical, corrupt world we live in, he will capitalize on our misfortune and turn it into a multi media bonanza. As far as my own movie and documentary projects, for which deals will be announced shortly, all I want and/or expect, is part of my money refunded—in these times of the pandemic I am covid crunched and can use the cash."