An alleged art swindle involving two Warhols, 6,800 miles, and a guy from Lynn
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A Lynn man was charged in federal court in Boston Wednesday with an international art swindle involving two Andy Warhol paintings and spanning more than 6,800 miles, according to the US Attorney’s Office.
Brian R. Walshe, 43, was arrested and charged in a criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud. He was detained pending a probable cause and detention hearing scheduled for Friday, prosecutors said in a statement.
Authorities said Walshe took two authentic Warhol paintings from a South Korean man he met while they were students at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh during the mid-1990s, then falsely offered those pieces on eBay.
When a Los Angeles art gallery owner who specializes in Warhol’s work agreed to buy the two pieces, Walshe delivered fake paintings, according to federal authorities.
The two pieces in question are from the pop artist’s “Shadows” series, which are a collection of untitled, abstract, acrylic-on-canvas paintings from 1978.
In November 2016, the Los Angeles gallery owner, who was not identified, noticed the two works for sale on eBay, according to federal court documents.
The original listing price for the two pieces was $100,000 and the seller included photographs of the paintings, a picture of an invoice that included authentication numbers and a purchase price of $240,000.
The gallery owner thought the art was authentic and agreed to buy the works for $80,000, according to the attorney’s office. The gallery owner’s assistant flew to Boston, met Walshe at the Four Seasons Hotel and gave him a cashier’s check for $80,000, which Walshe deposited that day, federal authorities said.
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