London Police Have Issued an Arrest Warrant for Art Heiress Angela Gulbenkian After She Skipped Her Court Date

Gulbenkian stands accused of stealing $1.4 million from a Hong Kong-based art advisor.

Ai Weiwei with Angela Gulbenkian. Photo via Instagram.

The legal woes of jet-setting art heiress Angela Gulbenkian have hit a new low after London’s Metropolitan Police issued a warrant for her arrest for failing to appear in court today.

The German Gulbenkian, who married the great-grandnephew of famed art collector and patron Calouste Gulbenkian, stands accused of theft after having allegedly arranged fraudulent art deals.

“A bench warrant has been issued for her arrest,” the police press bureau told Artnet News in an email.

Gulbenkian was charged with two counts of theft in April, and was scheduled to have had a pretrial hearing at Southwark Crown Court today. She stands accused of having stolen £1.1 million ($1.4 million) after allegedly making a fraudlent sale of a polka dot pumpkin sculpture by Yayoi Kusama to Hong Kong-based art advisor Mathieu Ticolat in April 2017.

Working with Christopher Marinello of Art Recovery International, Ticolat filed criminal charges against Gulbenkian in January 2018 after the work never arrived.

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (2014). Courtesy David Zwirner; Ota Fine Art; Victoria Miro. Photo: Steve Travarca.

Yayoi Kusama, Pumpkin (2014). Angela Gulbenkian is charged with having fraudulently sold a similar work by the artist. Courtesy David Zwirner; Ota Fine Art; Victoria Miro. Photo by Steve Travarca.

Gulbenkian narrowly avoided ending up behind bars last year after missing an earlier court date. A warrant was issued for her arrest back in June, but Marinello tells Artnet News that “she conned the judge into thinking she was having some kind of elective surgery and they vacated the warrant and set the date for trial.”

London police did not respond to inquiries regarding the earlier warrant, noting only that Gulbenkian “appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on May 28 and was bailed pending further case management hearings.”

As of press time, Artnet News was unable to reach Gulbenkian for comment.

Ticolat isn’t the only person who claims to have been defrauded by Gulbenkian.

An anonymous London dealer filed a separate lawsuit against her in Germany last month, alleging that she sold him an Andy Warhol print for £115,000 ($151,000), but pocketed the money, leaving the dealer on the hook when the work’s original owner came calling. That deal took place in March 2019, after Ticolat’s charges had already been filed.

Angela Gulbenkian arranged for the sale of this Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II print, but never delivered the payment to the original owner. Courtesy of Art Recovery International.

Angela Gulbenkian allegedly arranged for the sale of this Andy Warhol Queen Elizabeth II print, but never delivered the payment to the original owner. Courtesy of Art Recovery International.

Marinello believes the German case will help make the arrest warrant stick.

“While she’s awaiting trial, she’s still committing additional crimes,” he said. “We have many, many theft victims who are out enormous sums of money.”

He added: “We’re doing everything within our power to try and locate her. She may not be a very good art dealer or art advisor, but she is a very good fraudster—but that will catch up with her.”

At today’s hearing, Gulbenkian’s former attorney, Howard Godfrey, informed the court that he was no longer representing her.

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