BOSTON (WHDH) - A Lynn man pleaded guilty Thursday to taking two forged Andy Warhol paintings from a friend and attempting to sell them on eBay, officials said.
Brian R. Walshe, 46, pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods and unlawful monetary transaction, according to US Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell.
While visiting a friend in South Korea, Walshe offered to sell the two pieces entitled “Shadows” and other fine pieces of art for a good price and the friend agreed. However, after he took off with the art, the friend was unable to get in touch with him again and contacted a mutual friend who was able to get some of the art back.
In May of 2011, he attempted to consign the Warhol paintings to a gallery in New York City but, the gallery declined to accept the paintings because Walshe did not have a bill of sale.
It was not until November of 2016 when an interested buyer contacted Walshe about the “Shadow” paintings which he had listed on eBay for $100,000. The advertisement included a picture of an invoice for the two paintings with Warhol Foundation numbers and a purchase price of $240,000.
Thinking they were authentic, the buyer arranged to purchase the artwork off of eBay for $80,000 and sent their assistant to Boston to retrieve them.
The cashier’s check was deposited that same day and $33,400 was withdrawn over the course of two weeks.
Several days later, the buyer said they removed the paintings’ frames and found no Warhol Foundation authentication stamps, and noticed that the canvasses and staples looked new.
When he compared the paintings to the photographs from the eBay listing, they did not look identical. The buyer concluded that the paintings he purchased from Walshe were not authentic.
The buyer then repeatedly attempted to contact Walshe, who initially did not respond, and then made excuses for the delay in refunding the buyer’s money.
He was arrested in 2018 and will be sentenced on Aug. 2.
He is facing up to 50 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1 million.
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