Prominent Ghanaian Influencer Charged For Role In Romance Scheme And Extradited From United Kingdom To The United States
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that ROBERT NEWLAND, the business partner of art dealer INIGO PHILBRICK, who specialized in post-war and contemporary fine art with galleries in London, United Kingdom, and Miami, Florida, pled guilty today before United States District Judge Sidney H. Stein to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud for perpetrating a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to finance PHILBRICK’s art business. NEWLAND, a citizen of the United Kingdom, was arrested in the United Kingdom on February 23, 2022, and extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States on September 22, 2022. PHILBRICK has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the multi-year, $86 million fraud scheme.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Robert Newland conspired with Inigo Philbrick to take advantage of the lack of transparency in the art market to defraud art collectors, investors, and lenders in order to finance Philbrick’s art business. Newland has now admitted his guilt and awaits sentencing for his role in perpetrating this extensive fraud.”
According to the allegations in the Complaint, Indictment, and statements made in court:
From approximately 2016 through 2019, to finance his art business, PHILBRICK engaged in a scheme to defraud multiple individuals and entities in the art market located in the New York metropolitan area and abroad (the “Fraud Scheme”). NEWLAND was PHILBRICK’s business partner and financial adviser and conspired with PHILBRICK to perpetrate the Fraud Scheme. NEWLAND and PHILBRICK made material misrepresentations and omissions to art collectors, investors, and lenders to access valuable art and obtain sales proceeds, funding, and loans. NEWLAND and PHILBRICK knowingly misrepresented the ownership of certain artworks, for example, by selling a total of more than 100%ownership in an artwork to multiple individuals and entities without their knowledge and by selling artworks and/or using artworks as collateral on loans without the knowledge of co-owners and without disclosing the ownership interests of third parties to buyers and lenders.
Over the years, PHILBRICK obtained over $86 million in loans and sale proceeds in connection with the Fraud Scheme. Artworks about which NEWLAND and PHILBRICK made these fraudulent misrepresentations in furtherance of the Fraud Scheme include, among others, a 1982 painting by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat titled “Humidity,” a 2010 untitled painting by the artist Christopher Wool, and an untitled 2012 painting by the artist Rudolf Stingel depicting the artist Pablo Picasso.
In the fall of 2019, NEWLAND and PHILBRICK’s Fraud Scheme collapsed as various investors and lenders learned about the material misrepresentations and omissions PHILBRICK and NEWLAND had made.
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NEWLAND, 45, a U.K. citizen residing in the United Kingdom, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum prison term of 20 years.
The statutory maximum sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by a judge.
PHILBRICK, 35, a U.S. citizen formerly residing in the United Kingdom, pled guilty to one count of wire fraud on November 18, 2021. On May 23, 2022, United States District Judge Sidney L. Stein sentenced PHILBRICK to 84 months in prison and two years of supervised release. PHILBRICK was further ordered to pay a forfeiture of $86,672,790 and restitution of $82,592,367.
Mr. Williams praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Art Crime Team. He also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of International Affairs and the U.S. Marshals Service for their support and assistance in the defendant’s extradition.
This case is being handled by the Office’s Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Jessica K. Feinstein and Cecilia E. Vogel are in charge of the prosecution.