A former art dealer has suggested London’s party scene was to blame for his £65.5million ($86million) scam.
Inigo Philbrick, 34, is currently facing a 20-year prison sentence for defrauding art collectors and lenders out of tens of millions.
Court documents have now revealed that he claims ‘drinking booze throughout the day and using illegal drugs is how art deals are done’.
A New York court was also told this month that Philbrick “had a reputation for drinking hard.”
Philbrick – who shares a young daughter with his Made in Chelsea fiancée Victoria Baker-Harber – has been accused by US prosecutors of being a “serial con artist”.
According to the Times, Philbrick pleaded guilty to “one count of wire fraud for perpetrating a multi-year scheme to defraud various individuals and entities in order to fund his artistic endeavor” in November.
Once Philbrick’s fraudulent behavior began to come to light, he disappeared but was later arrested on a South Pacific island in June 2020.
Philbrick’s legal team told the New York court that he would hand over the millions of fraudulently obtained funds he owns and that he “immediately accepted responsibility for his criminal conduct and provided information about other frauds on the art market.
The former global art star left his hometown of Connecticut to study at Goldsmiths University, before interning at White Cube Gallery in 2005.
During his internship, Philbrick met the famous British artists Gilbert & George, who provided character reference to the New York court.
They hailed him as “a very talented, extraordinary, charming, honest and decent young man”.
Philbrick then took over galleries in Mayfair and Miami.
Twenty years is the maximum sentence faced by Philbrick, whose fraudulent activity took place between 2016 and 2019.
According to Tatler, when asked by a judge why he decided to scam people out of so much money, Philbrick replied, “For the money, your honor.”
The outlet adds that Philbrick’s lawyer, Jeffrey Lichtman, said: “It’s a sad day for Inigo, but he’s happy to put this behind him. The industry is corrupt from the ground up. Inigo n is not the cause here, it is a symptom.
“I suspect many more cases like this would come to light if the art world were thoroughly investigated.
“Although his actions were dishonest and criminal in nature, he is part of a sick industry from the ground up where this kind of behavior is unfortunately commonplace. That being said, he apologizes to his victims and will do whatever he can to heal them.