Disgraced Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Has Been Formally Charged by US Authorities With Wire Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft

Philbrick is reportedly in the same Oklahoma jail where "Tiger King" Joe Exotic was incarcerated until recently.

Inigo Philbrick, ©Patrick McMullan Photo by Clint Spaulding/PMC
Inigo Philbrick. Photo by Clint Spaulding, ©Patrick McMullan.

Art dealer Inigo Philbrick, who was captured on the South Pacific Island of Vanuatu last month, was indicted yesterday, July 13, by a US grand jury on charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. He will be tried in the Southern District of New York.

In the indictment, Philbrick was ordered to forfeit to US authorities “any and all property, real and personal, that constitutes or is derived from proceeds traceable to the commission of said offense.”

US prosecutors say that Philbrick’s fraud scheme, which allegedly involved selling shares of blue-chip artworks totaling more than 100 percent, is estimated at $20 million.

A post to a private Instagram account last Friday shows Inigo Philbrick in zipties being escorted to a Gulfstream jet in Vanuatu.

A post to a private Instagram account shows Inigo Philbrick in zipties being escorted to a Gulfstream jet in Vanuatu.

Yet several civil suits and international asset-seizure requests brought by investors include even higher cumulative claims.

Thus far, Fine Art Partners, a Berlin-based investment company, is suing Philbrick in Miami for the return of $14 million in artwork and funds. Athena Art Finance, a lender that says it advanced Philbrick $14 million based on his claims of ownership of various multimillion-dollar artworks, including ones by Jean-Michel Basquiat, is also suing the dealer.

Acknowledging the complicated nature of Philbrick’s alleged fraud, the indictment stipulates that any artworks tied up in the investigation that cannot be located due to “any act or omission of the defendant” are still subject to forfeiture.

Inigo Philbrick's arrest on the front cover of the Vanuatu newspaper, The Daily Post

Inigo Philbrick’s arrest on the front cover of the Vanuatu newspaper, The Daily Post

Philbrick’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

After initially being brought to Guam, a US territory, on June 15, Philbrick was transferred to a federal detention center in Honolulu, according to a court filing. A person who answered the phone at the detention center on June 22 confirmed that Philbrick was there.

More recently, Bloomberg reported last week that Philbrick had been transferred to Chickasha, Oklahoma, where he was among a group of 30 federal inmates awaiting transfer to other jurisdictions.

(The Chickasha facility was also where Joe Maldonado, aka Joe Exotic, star of the hit Netflix series, “Tiger King,” was reportedly incarcerated up until a few months ago, when he was moved to the Fort Worth Medical Center.)

After his arrest in Vanuatu on June 15, Philbrick was brought straight to the local airport—despite a strict lockdown order on the small island—and transferred via a Gulfstream jet, according to sources who witnessed it, to Guam.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Article topics
Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In