Man, 46, pleads guilty to selling two Andy Warhol paintings on eBay for $ 80,000 before swapping them with forgeries
- Brian Walshe, 46, from Boston, convinced his friend, who had recently bought two Andy Warhol paintings, that he could sell them for a good price
- Walshe took the paintings and disappeared with his friend who never got any money in return
- In November 2016, Walshe put the paintings on eBay for $ 100,000 each, an art gallery owner agreed to buy them for $ 80,000
- After purchasing the paintings, the buyer realized that the artworks he was buying were fake and different from the ones on eBay
- Walshe was arrested in 2018 and pleaded guilty to four charges on Friday, including wire fraud and interstate transportation for a plan to defraud
- His sentencing is scheduled for August 2, and he is facing 50 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine
Brian Walshe, 46 (pictured), pleaded guilty to four counts on Friday, including wire fraud and interstate transportation for a scheme to cheat, and could face up to 50 years in prison
A Boston man orchestrated an international art scam, taking two Andy Warhol paintings from a friend and selling them on eBay – only to exchange them for forgeries.
Brian Walshe, 46, pleaded guilty to one count of telegram fraud, interstate transportation on Friday for a plan to defraud, possession of converted goods and illegal money transactions, according to a release of the United States Law Firm for the District of Massachusetts.
In November 2016, an eBay user – an art gallery owner in Los Angeles – found Walshe selling two Andy Warhol paintings for $ 100,000 each.
The paintings were from Warhol’s Shadows series, abstract paintings the pop artist created in 1978.
To the list, Walshe also included a photo of an invoice from the Warhol Foundation, where he claimed he had bought the paintings and which would show that he paid $ 240,000 for them.
Believed to be authentic, the buyer contacted Walshe in early November to purchase both paintings outside of eBay for $ 80,000.
The couple signed a contract, explicitly stating that the buyer had three days to get a full refund, according to the Massachusetts DA office.
On November 7, the buyer’s assistant flew to Boston to pick up the paintings and gave Walshe a check for $ 80,000, which was deposited that day.
The next day, the buyer unwrapped the paintings and discovered that there were no authentication stamps on the back of the Warhol Foundation and that the canvases looked new.
Then the buyer compared the paintings with the photos on eBay and determined that they were different.
Walshe convinced his friend, who had recently bought two Andy Warhol paintings, that he could sell them for a good price – but then he disappeared and his friend never got any money back. Pictured: One of the Warhol paintings
In November 2016, Walshe put the paintings on eBay for $ 100,000 and an art gallery owner agreed to buy them for $ 80,000. After buying the paintings, the buyer realized that the artworks he was buying were fake. Pictured: One of two Andy Warhol paintings
After concluding that the paintings in his possession were not authentic, he made repeated attempts to contact Walshe.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Walshe was originally unresponsive and, when he did, made several excuses not to immediately refund the money.
Prosecutors say Walshe got his hands on the paintings while visiting his friend in South Korea and convinced the man that he could sell several works of art, including Warhol’s works, for a good price.
The victim agreed, but then Walshe disappeared and the friend was unable to contact him. In the end, a mutual friend took back some of the art.
The district attorney’s office also says that Walshe attempted to sell the Warhol paintings to a New York City gallery, which declined because Walshe did not have a bill of sale.
In May 2018, Walshe was arrested and charged.
His sentencing is scheduled for August 2, and he is facing 50 years in prison and a $ 1 million fine.