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Man, 46, pleads guilty to stealing Andy Warhol paintings and attempting them on eBay

Man, 46, pleads guilty to selling two Andy Warhol paintings on eBay for $80,000 before he switched them out with fakes

  • 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 never receiving any money in return for them
  • In November 2016, Walshe put the paintings up on eBay for $100,000 each an art gallery owner agreed to buy them for $80,000
  • After buying the paintings, the buyer realized the artworks he purchased were fakes and different from the ones pictured on eBay
  • Walshe was arrested in 2018 and pleaded guilty on Friday to four counts including wire fraud and interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud
  • His sentencing is scheduled for August 2, and he faces up to 50 years in prison and a fine of $1 million 

Brian Walshe, 46 (pictured), pleaded guilty on Friday to four counts including wire fraud and interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, and faces up to 50 years in prison

A Boston man orchestrated an international art swindle, in which he took two Andy Warhol paintings from a friend and sold them on eBay – only to switch them out for fakes.

Brian Walshe, 46, pleaded guilty on Friday to one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods and unlawful monetary transaction, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts

In November 2016, an eBay user – a Los Angeles art gallery owner – 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.

On the listing, Walshe also included a photo of an invoice from the Warhol Foundation, where he claimed he bought the paintings, and which allegedly showed he paid $240,000 for them.

The buyer believed they were authentic and contacted Walshe in early November, arranging to purchase both paintings outside of eBay for $80,000. 

The pair signed a contract, which explicitly stated that the buyer had three days to get a full refund, according to the Massachusetts DA’s office.

On November 7, the buyer’s assistant flew to Boston to collect the paintings and gave Walshe an $80,000 cashier’s check, which was deposited that day.

The next day, the buyer unwrapped the paintings and found there were no authentication stamps on the back from the Warhol Foundation and that the canvasses looked new.

Next, the buyer compared the paintings to the photographs on eBay and determined 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 received any money in return for them. Pictured: One of the Warhol paintings

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 received any money in return for them. Pictured: One of the Warhol paintings

In November 2016, Walshe put the paintings up on eBay for $100,000 and an art gallery owner agreed to buy them for $80,000. After buying the paintings, the buyer realized the artworks he purchased were fakes. Pictured: One of the two Andy Warhol paintings

In November 2016, Walshe put the paintings up on eBay for $100,000 and an art gallery owner agreed to buy them for $80,000. After buying the paintings, the buyer realized the artworks he purchased were fakes. Pictured: One of the two Andy Warhol paintings

After concluding the paintings in his possession were inauthentic, he made repeated attempts to contact Walshe.

According to the DA’s office, Walshe originally did not respond and, when he did, made several excuses for not refunding the money immediately. 

Prosecutors say Walshe got hold of the paintings while visiting his friend in South Korea and convinced the man he could sell several pieces of art, including the works by Warhol, for a good price.

The victim agreed but then Walshe disappeared and the friend was unable to contact him. Eventually, a mutual friend retrieved some of the art. 

The DA’s Office also says Walshe tried to sell the Warhol paintings to a gallery in New York City, 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 faces up to 50 years in prison and a fine of $1 million.

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