Sunday Express

British art dealer faces US trial over ‘Ponzi scheme’ fraud charges

- By Jon Austin CRIME EDITOR

A BRITISH art dealer has agreed to be extradited to the US to face trial for allegedly supplying forged documents to the fraudster fiancé of Made in Chelsea star Victoria Baker-harber.

Robert Newland, 44, a former director of London’swhite Cube gallery, is charged in the US with providing false informatio­n and documents to help swindler Inigo Philbrick carry out an art-based “Ponzi-like scheme” which conned clients out of £68million.

Philbrick, 35, a British-born US art dealer, was branded the “mini-madoff of the art world” – referring to crooked financier Bernie Madoff – after he was jailed for seven years in May for the fraud that saw him use customer’s money to fund a luxury lifestyle, clear debts and pay for artworks.

Philbrick’s scam involved selling the same masterpiec­es several times to different investors. US prosecutor’s claim Newland aided the scam by acting as an adviser and providing false documents.

Artworks involved included a 2012 painting of Picasso by artist Rudolf Stingel and a 1982 piece by Jean-michel Basquiat called Humidity.

Philbrick’s scheme fell apart after he defaulted on a $14million loan and art buyers began to file civil lawsuits against him.

He chose not to appear at hearings in London and Miami in November 2019, and fled.

He was arrested in June 2020 on the South Pacific island ofvanuatu following an undercover operation by the FBI.

Philbrick had been staying in a boat house withvictor­ia, 34, who was pregnant with their daughter. She has stood by her lover after giving birth to Gaiagrace, now almost two, in October 2020.

In an episode of the last season of Channel 4’s Made in Chelsea, first broadcast in April, before his sentence, Victoria spoke about the situation to another cast member. She said: “He’s incarcerat­ed right now, awaiting sentencing.

“It’s financial, white-collar stuff. Unfortunat­ely he’s being held in a place like maximum security. I’ve only seen him once since all of this has happened – he was shackled.”

Newland is said to have met Philbrick atwhite Cube, when the latter was there as an intern.

Newyork’s Southern District Court unsealed an indictment against Newland in February. He is charged with one count of wire fraud and another of conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

He appeared atwestmins­ter Magistrate­s’ Court and was released on conditiona­l bail after paying a £250,000 security.

Newland, who is expected to deny the allegation­s, is bailed to live at his £1.8million home in Acton, west London, under an electronic­ally monitored curfew.

He told the Sunday Express: “I have no comment.”

 ?? ??
 ?? Picture: INSTAGRAM ?? GLAMOUR: Inigo
Philbrick with Made In Chelsea
star Victoria Baker-harber;
inset below, Robert Newland
Picture: INSTAGRAM GLAMOUR: Inigo Philbrick with Made In Chelsea star Victoria Baker-harber; inset below, Robert Newland

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