Inigo Philbrick — Meet the Bernie Madoff of the Art World

Inigo Philbrick is often called the “mini Madoff.” He's a disgraced art dealer who pulled off a million-dollar heist similar to a Ponzi scheme.

Jennifer Farrington - Author

May 12 2023, Updated 12:52 p.m. ET

We all know Bernie Madoff’s story and how he “made off” with billions of dollars from investors who he promised would see a return. Now, meet the “mini Madoff” or Inigo Philbrick. Philbrick, a disgraced art dealer from Connecticut, was sentenced to 86 months in prison after carrying out what many compare to a Ponzi scheme.

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Philbrick, who was talented and persuasive, owned art galleries in London and Miami. He used his status in the industry to swindle more than $86 million combined from investors and loans. Find out more about who “mini Madoff” is and the crimes he committed down below.

What did mini Madoff do?

Philbrick may not have entered the world of art with the intention of carrying out one of the largest fraud schemes to date, but he did. Between his knowledge of art and the connections he formed with wealthy art enthusiasts, Philbrook was able to open multiple art galleries that specialized in post-war pieces and contemporary fine art, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).

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Sometime between 2016 and 2019, Philbrick began plotting how he would finance his art business, and eventually turned to “high-dollar art investors.” He also sold pieces of art he didn’t actually own and “played games with millions of dollars in other people’s money,” according to the DOJ.

Over time, Philbrick managed to obtain more than $20 million from people who trusted him after he sold more than 100 percent of a piece of art. Obviously, he didn't disclose this "little" detail at the time investments were made. Philbrick was also found guilty of using artwork “as collateral on loans without the knowledge of co-owners.”

Some of the pieces involved in Philbrick’s scheme include a 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat titled Humidity and Rudolf Stingel’s depiction of Pablo Picasso (2012).

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Inigo Philbrick posing with Victoria Baker-Harber.
Source: YouTube

Inigo Philbrick and Victoria Baker-Harber

What happened to “mini Madoff?”

While Phibrick’s scheme played out well for a while, it all eventually caught up to him when his inventors came looking for their returns. Knowing what was in store for him, Philbrick fled the country to an island in the South Pacific and was later returned to the U.S. so that justice could be served.

In May 2022, Philbrick was sentenced to seven years in prison and ordered to pay a forfeiture of $86,672,790 and $82,592,367 in restitution.

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In September 2022, the DOJ also announced that Philbrick's business partner, Robert Newland, had plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Newland, a United Kingdom citizen, helped Philbrick carry out a multi-year scheme to defraud people and businesses to secure funding for his partner's art business.Newland is currently looking at spending up to 20 years in prison. He is still awaiting sentencing.

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Where is Inigo Philbrick now?

Prior to his May 2022 sentencing, Philbrick served 22 months in prison, Fortune reported. That time will go toward the seven-year sentence he was given for the various crimes he plead guilty to. While it isn’t clear where Philbrook is being held, we presume he’s serving his sentence in a New York jail.

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Who is Inigo Philbrick's wife?

Victoria Baker-Harber
Source: YouTube

Victoria Baker-Harber

Although Philbrick doesn’t appear to be married, he was reportedly engaged to Made in Chelsea star and socialite Victoria Baker-Harber, who he now has a second child with, after he dated Francisca Mancini. Mancini is reportedly the mother of Philbrick’s first child.

Although Philbrick will be spending the next few years locked away from the world, Victoria is living her best life. When she's not collaborating with brands and taking helicopter rides, she's getting in some quality time with her daughter.

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