A federal grand jury this week indicted a Lynn man on charges he stole two Warhols from a former college classmate in South Korea and put them up for sale on eBay, only when he got a buyer he sent him fakes.
Brian R. Walshe, 43, was indicted on one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods, and unlawful monetary transaction. Walshe was actually arrested in May in connection with the case.
The paintings were two of Warhol’s "Shadows," a series of abstract paintings done in1978.
The US Attorney's office reports that Walshe and the real owner of the two Warhols met as students at Carnegie Mellon in the 1990s. On a visit to the owner's home in South Korea, officials say, he convinced the man to give him several Warhols, saying he could sell them at a good profit, but then went silent.
In 2016, officials say, Walshe offered the paintings for sale on eBay:
It is alleged that the buyer believed the paintings were authentic and between Nov. 3 and 5, 2016, arranged with Walshe – the seller – to purchase the artwork outside of eBay for $80,000. 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. On Nov. 7, 2016, the buyer’s assistant flew to Boston and met Walshe to retrieve the paintings, 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the cashier’s check was deposited that day into an account that Walshe controlled, and $33,400 was subsequently withdrawn in the following 14 days.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 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.
Walshe faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.