High-Flying London Art Dealer in Oklahoma Jail After Fraud Bust

Art dealer Inigo Philbrick’s journey from a life of private jets and million-dollar auctions to an equally glamorous escape from fraud charges in the South Pacific has detoured to a rural Oklahoma jail.

Philbrick, who had galleries in London and Miami specializing in post-war and contemporary art, was arrested on June 15 in the island nation of Vanuatu and turned over to U.S. authorities. He was presented in court in Guam, a U.S. territory, was taken into custody by the U.S. Marshals Service for transport to New York.

High-Flying London Art Dealer in Oklahoma Jail After Fraud Bust

But Philbrick is being held in a facility in Chickasha, Oklahoma, where he is among a group of 30 federal inmates awaiting transfer to other jurisdictions, Assistant U.S. Attorney Cecilia Vogel said during a court hearing on Wednesday held via teleconference. While Philbrick could be transferred to New York by next week, he will have to be tested for coronavirus before heading to his next destination, which could delay his arrival by as much as a month, she said.

Detention in a county facility in Oklahoma is a stark reversal for the 33-year-old, whose life in the rarefied art world included private jets, expensive watches and bidding millions at auctions. With his galleries in London and Miami shuttered, he had been missing for months, even after a flurry of lawsuits accused him of defrauding investors, including the billionaire Reuben brothers.

Masks are elective, not mandatory, and the inmates get them twice a week, Vogel said. Peter Brill, an attorney for Philbrick, said that during a video call with his mother, none of the inmates visible in the background wore masks. Philbrick, who refused to be tested for the virus, didn’t participate in the teleconference.

A federal inmate held at the jail died of Covid-19 in April.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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