Main menu

Pages

UK dealer Rob Newland has pleaded guilty to a role in Inigo Philbrick's $86million art fraud scheme

featured image

Four months after disgraced art dealer Inigo Philbrick was sentenced to seven years in prison for defrauding clients and business partners, US authorities have resumed their prosecution of the only other individual facing charges criminals in artistic fraud that has been going on for years.

Robert Newland, Philbrick’s former business partner who was indicted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office last March, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The crime carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Newland’s sentencing is scheduled for the end of March next year.

The wire fraud helped perpetrate “a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to fund Philbrick’s artistic endeavor,” according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office.

Once one of the most well-connected players in the contemporary art market, Philbrick allegedly sold over 100% shares of artworks he did not own, forged contracts, forged signatures and invented fictitious customers in order to propel his ruse. He also used artwork he did not own as collateral for loans.

A now deleted screenshot of Newland’s staff page via Superblue.com

As Philbrick’s business partner and financial advisor, Newland “conspired with Inigo Philbrick to take advantage of the art market’s lack of transparency to defraud art collectors, investors, and lenders in order to fund artistic activity. of Philbrick,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. “Newland has now admitted his guilt and awaits sentencing for his role in the perpetration of this vast fraud.”

Newland was arrested in the UK on February 23 and extradited to the United States last week. At the time Artnet News first reported on his indictment, Newland held the title of sales manager for experiential art company Superblue. His page was removed from the website shortly after the news broke and a representative said he was on temporary leave. Superblue did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Newland’s status in light of his guilty plea.

Sources told Artnet News that Philbrick and Newland first met at London’s White Cube Gallery, where electrical dealer Jay Jopling helped launch Philbrick’s career. Newland worked in the gallery’s finance department before taking a job at McKinsey & Company. UK Companies House also lists him as a director of Philbrick’s Modern Collections company from 2014 until his resignation in December 2016.

Newland’s attorneys did not immediately respond to request for comment. Until he returns to the UK, his movements are “restricted to the southern and eastern districts of New York,” according to court documents.

In total, Philbrick’s fraud is estimated at $86 million. Top collectors, dealers and investors are now battling in court for ownership of prime works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Rudolf Stingel and Christopher Wool who have been caught in the crosshairs.

Newland originally appeared on Philbrick’s Criminal List in July 2020 as “Sealed Defendant 1.” His identity was made public in February. His name also appears in emails associated with at least a multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit against Philbrick brought by investment firm Fine Art Partners (FAP).

“I’m glad to see others being held accountable for their role in Inigo’s downfall,” Philbrick’s fiancée, Victoria Baker Harber, told Artnet News. “Without Rob, Inigo would never have had a loan pool structured through Jersey, or a relationship with Fine Art Partners – all of those complex financial structures that proved so destructive bear Rob’s fingerprints. ‘others who should also be held accountable. There are important people who are complicit and have escaped all consequences thus far, aided by Inigo’s silence. Those others who come to mind must now be very nervous.

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay one step ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to receive breaking news, revealing interviews and incisive reviews that move the conversation forward.

Commentaires