Celebrated artist Andy Warhol once claimed that everyone will be famous for 15 minutes.
Well, a Lynn man is getting is 15 minutes of fame in connection with a bizarre story that allegedly includes the taking of two Warhol paintings from an acquaintance in South Korea and then allegedly trying to sell fake versions of the two paintings on eBay.
Brian Walshe, 43, of Lynn, was arrested and charged last week in a criminal complaint with one count of wire fraud. During an initial appearance in court, Walshe was detained pending a probable cause and detention held on Friday, May 11, 2018, before U.S District Court Magistrate Judge Jennifer C. Boal.
The story begins in South Korea when a South Korean national and acquaintance of Walshe purchased two Warhol paintings through Fleishman Fine Art from Jablonka Gallery in Germany in 2007. The paintings were two of Warhol’s “Shadows,” a series of untitled, abstract canvas paintings from 1978.
Walshe was present during his acquaintance’s purchase of the two paintings and other pieces of art.
Sometime later, Walshe was in South Korean visiting his acquaintance and convinced him he could sell the two Warhol pieces and other art for a good price.
The acquaintance agreed and let the Walshe take the two ‘Shadows paintings,’ and other fine art pieces. However, after Walshe left South Korean with the art his acquaintance reported that he did not hear from him and was unable to contact him.
Eventually, the acquaintance contacted a mutual friend, who met with Walshe and retrieved some of the art.
However, while the acquaintance couldn’t contact Walshe a gallery in New York City reported Walshe tried to consign the two Warhol paintings and other art belonging to the acquaintance back in South Korea. The New York City gallery refused to accept the Warhol paintings and other art because Walshe could not produce a bill of sale for the art.
Then in early November 2016 a buyer found the two paintings from Warhol’s ‘Shadows” series for sale on eBay. The original listing price for the paintings was set at $100,000. The eBay seller included in the advertisement photographs of the paintings, a picture of an invoice from Fleishman Fine Art for the two Warhol paintings with Warhol Foundation numbers and a purchase price of $240,000.
It is alleged that the buyer believed the paintings were authentic and between Nov. 3 and 5, 2016, arranged with Walshe to purchase the artwork outside of eBay for $80,000.
According to court documents Walshe and the buyer signed a contract which specified that the buyer had three days to terminate the contract and get a full refund if the buyer did not accept the artwork.
Then on Nov. 7, 2016, the buyer’s assistant flew to Boston and met Walshe to retrieve the paintings. Walshe was providing him with a cashier’s check for $80,000. According to bank records, the cashier’s check was deposited that day into an account that Walshe controlled and $33,400 was subsequently withdrawn in the following 14 days.
On Nov. 8, 2016, the eBay buyer removed the paintings’ frames and found no Warhol Foundation authentication stamps and also 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.
On May 9 authorities arrested Walshe and charged him wire fraud.
If convicted Walshe could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
An example of paintings that are part of famed artist Andy Warhol’s “Shadows,” a series of untitled, abstract canvas paintings from 1978. A Lynn man was charged with taking two of Warhol’s ‘Shadows” paintings from an acquaintance in South Korean and then trying to sell two fake version of the series to an eBay buyer.