Art

Controversial Art Dealer Inigo Philbrick Goes Missing

Philbrick is at the center of several lawsuits

Inigo Philbrick
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/Getty Images for Galerie Patrick Sequin
By Tobias Carroll / December 8, 2019 11:48 am

Young, stylish and with a penchant for acquiring notable works of art — when Inigo Philbrick first established himself as an art dealer, he kicked off what struck many as the beginning of a long and storied career in the industry. Things didn’t quite go according to plan, however; instead, Philbrick came under fire for shady financial dealings. The phrase “Ponzi scheme” comes up in this ARTnews overview of the dealer and his rise and fall

Now, Bloomberg is reporting that Philbrick has vanished. “Last month, Philbrick failed to appear for court hearings in Miami and London,” Katya Kazakina writes. “His lawyers in Miami stopped representing him. Philbrick didn’t return emails and calls seeking comment.”

This follows the news last month that Philbrick’s assets had been frozen.

Philbrick was also under fire for having sold the same painting — a work by Rudolf Stingel — to multiple buyers, even as he continued to describe the painting as being available for sale. 

The ARTnews report on Philbrick’s life offers few conclusions as to his motivations:

Many observers sitting on the sidelines who believe the allegations made in the pending lawsuits now debate whether Philbrick was an honest dealer who got in over his head or whether his habit of buying goodwill with early profits followed by an abuse of trust was a well-planned strategy.

Whatever happens with Philbrick’s disappearance and the legal proceedings around him, we probably haven’t heard the last of this controversial figure. In their article on his life, ARTnews cites writer and curator Kenny Schachter, who is currently working on a screenplay about Philbrick. Let a thousand casting threads begin.

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