A Lynn man who allegedly sold two counterfeit Andy Warhol works to a premier Los Angeles gallery is facing one count of federal wire fraud for lying about the authenticity of the forgeries and making off with $50,000 from the purchase price.
Brian Walshe, a 43-year-old from Lynn, was arrested yesterday after an FBI investigation alleged he first stole the authentic Warhols then made counterfeits and doctored supporting paperwork to sell to an unsuspecting buyer.
The buyer Walshe allegedly duped was Ron Rivlin, the owner of Revolver Gallery in Los Angeles, which prides itself as having the largest gallery-owned Warhol collection in the world. Rivlin, who is suing Walshe in a Los Angeles court for a breach of contract, told the Herald he’s “very grateful” authorities in Boston took action.
“I’m confident justice will be served,” Rivlin said.
Rivlin contacted Walshe in November through an eBay post, which claimed he was selling the works at a steep loss to pay for home renovations and went to eBay because the auction house Christie’s couldn’t put them to gavel for another six months. The works offered were two Warhols from his 1974 series of 102 separate works known as “Shadows.”
Through the post and later conversations, Walshe offered Rivlin documentation proving the works’ authenticity, specifically noting the works’ Warhol Foundation registration numbers printed on the back of the paintings, according to court papers.
Rivlin flew an associate to Boston and exchanged the works for an agreed-upon $80,000 cashier’s check in the Bristol Lounge of the Four Seasons Hotel overlooking Boston Common. The paintings were encased in a frame that obscured the registration numbers.
Once Rivlin got a hold of the paintings and reviewed the back for the numbers, he found they were not there. The canvas did not appear to be from the ’70s, and the paintings did not look legitimate. He called many times to get his money back but only received $30,000.