In a $86 million fraud scheme, an art dealer got 7 years in prison.
Inigo Philbrick pleaded guilty to fraud in deals involving works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Christopher Wool, and other artists. Prosecutors said he used the fact that the art market wasn't clear to his advantage.
A federal judge in Manhattan gave a London art dealer seven years in prison on Monday for tricking investors and running away to an island in the Pacific.
Since he was caught in 2020 on the island of Vanuatu, Inigo Philbrick, the drug dealer, has been in jail for almost two years. Officials say that the time he spent in jail will be added to his sentence.
In November, Mr. Philbrick admitted to wire fraud and agreed to give up $86 million.
He was a big deal in the world of postwar and modern art. He flew on private jets, rented villas in Ibiza, and wore handmade Italian suits.
Mr. Philbrick is an American who went to Goldsmiths, University of London, which has a well-known art program. When he was in his 20s, he opened a gallery and consulting business. Harry Philbrick, his father, used to run the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut.
Prosecutors said that Mr. Philbrick had sold more than 100 percent of an artwork to multiple investors, sold works of art or used them as collateral on loans without the knowledge of their co-owners, and used "fraudulent" documents to "artificially inflate the value of artworks."
Damian Williams, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement released Monday that Inigo Philbrick grew his supposedly successful art business by "collateralizing" and "reselling" fractional shares in high-priced contemporary art. "Unfortunately, his success was built on blatant lies, like hiding ownership interests, using fake documents, and even making up an art collector."
Federal guidelines called for a sentence of about 10 to 12 years, and the prosecutors asked for a long sentence. But on Monday, Mr. Philbrick's defense attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, argued for leniency in a Manhattan courtroom as a crowd of his supporters watched from the gallery.
Mr. Lichtman told Judge Sidney H. Stein of Federal District Court in Manhattan, "We're asking for mercy." He said that Mr. Philbrick had "gone off the rails" and was no longer the same person who had cheated investors.
Mr. Philbrick, who was in tan jail clothes, told Judge Stein that he was deeply ashamed and embarrassed by what he had done and that he would work for the rest of his life to make up for what he had done and pay back what he owed.
"I am truly sorry," he said, calling his actions "outrageous and unacceptable."
Judge Stein said that Mr. Philbrick had "great potential" and "all the social connections," but he still "engaged in this massive fraud."
After giving Mr. Philbrick his sentence, Judge Stein told him to make the most of his time in prison.
"You can do a lot to help while you're in jail," he said. "I do wish you luck," he said. Then, as he was being led out of the courtroom, Mr. Philbrick took off the face mask he was wearing, turned to his supporters in the gallery, put his hand on his chest, and blew them a kiss.