Once considered a rising young star in the gallery world, dealer Inigo Philbrick on Monday was sentenced to seven years in jail after pleading guilty to charges of wire fraud totaling $86 million. The sentence is less than the recommended minimum of just over ten years. Philbrick
has been imprisoned since November 2020, when US authorities picked him up on the South Pacific island of Vanuatu, whence he had fled. Judge Sidney H. Stein of the Federal District Court in Manhattan ruled that the two years the dealer has already spent in jail will count as time served toward his sentence. Among the charges leveled at Philbrick were that he sold more than 100 percent ownership of artwork to multiple investors; that he sold works or used them as collateral against loans without the knowledge of their co-owners; that he used fake documents to artificially inflate the value of various artworks; and that he employed a stolen identity.
Multiple sources reported that the London-born Philbrick, the son of Harry Philbrick, a former director of Ridgefield, Connecticut’s Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, appeared genuinely remorseful at his sentencing. Admitting that his actions were motivated by “vanity and greed,” the dealer abandoned his prepared statement midway through the proceedings to assert, “The only goal I have is to make the people who believed in me whole.” Among those Philbrick defrauded are White Cube’s Jay Jopling, who gave him his start as an intern and additionally funded the disgraced dealer’s now-shuttered Miami gallery. Though Philbrick was ordered to forfeit $86 million and two paintings currently in his possession—one by Christopher Wool and the other by Wade Guyton—it is unlikely that his victims, some of whom were defrauded of tens of millions of dollars, will recover all their lost assets.
“Inigo Philbrick grew his purportedly successful art business by collateralizing and reselling fractional shares in high dollar contemporary art,” said Damian Williams, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, in a statement. “Unfortunately, his success was built on brazen lies, including concealed ownership interests, fake documents and even an invented art collector.”