Fugitive Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Arrested in Vanuatu

Philbrick is now awaiting a court appearance in Guam

Galerie Patrick Seguin London Hosts Opening Of Jean Royere Exhibition
Inigo Philbrick (R) attends the opening of a Jean Royere Exhibition at Galerie Patrick Seguin London on February 25, 2016 in London, England.
Stuart C. Wilson

What happens when you’re an art dealer being investigated for allegedly selling the same painting to multiple people? If you’re Inigo Philbrick, the answer was, apparently, “go missing.” Philbrick disappeared late last year after a series of events that prompted comparisons to the misdeeds of Bernie Madoff.

Earlier this year, arts journalist Kenny Schachter recounted the story of his friendship with Philbrick, a kind of post-mortem on a period of excess that read as something stranger than fiction. But hovering behind all of that was another question: just where had Philbrick gone?

And now we have an answer to that question. The island nation of Vanuatu, apparently. That was where authorities caught up to Philbrick and arrested him on Thursday, according to a report by Victoria Bekiempis at Vulture. Philbrick had been living there since October of 2019, a period which has reached its end:

The Feds took Philbrick into custody after Vanuatu authorities “expelled” him from the country “at the request of the U.S. Embassy in Papua New Guinea in light of the charges in the Complaint.” He was then taken to Guam, where he is expected to appear in federal court on June 15.

A statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of New York offers more context. Philbrick has been charged “with engaging in a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to finance his art business.” Philbrick was charged with 1 count each of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft.

With his court appearance 2 days away, the next step in this unlikely saga is quickly approaching — as well as the sense that this is going to be fodder for an excellent true crime miniseries before too long.

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