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Art scam victim says Brian Walshe was master manipulator

Victim of Brian Walshe's art scam says he was master manipulator
Victim of Brian Walshe's art scam says he was master manipulator 02:46

COHASSET - When Brian Walshe was arraigned Monday for allegedly misleading investigators in the disappearance of his wife Ana, prosecutors noted that he broke the terms of his home confinement to travel to Home Depot and make trips after curfew. 

Walshe is on home confinement because of a federal conviction for fraud following a scheme where he stole and sold real and fake Andy Warhol paintings. 

According to court documents, in 2016, Walshe stole a number of Warhols and other precious pieces of art from a friend in South Korea, falsely offering to sell them for him. Once Walshe returned to the U.S., he stopped answering the friend. Walshe then attempted to sell the Warhols to a gallery that refused them because he didn't produce a bill of sale. Eventually he sold one on eBay for $80,000 - but when the buyer, a California art gallery owner, received the painting - he knew it was fake. 

Walshe had sent pictures of the real, stolen paintings but sent a fake copy to the buyer. 

That buyer was Ron Rivlin, the owner of Revolver Gallery in California, the largest Andy Warhol gallery worldwide. 

In dealing with Brian at first, Rivlin said Brian Walshe was "charismatic, articulate, and professional," and after he delivered fake paintings he was "unreachable" until Rivlin involved his wife and the FBI. "He would only cooperate when he was forced to," Rivlin said. 

Ana Walsh and Brian Walshe. Courtesy Photo/CBS Boston

"He's very tactful in how he plays the legal system," Rivlin added. "It's been over 6 years and he's avoided sentencing this long." It's true: a series of payment delays as well as other issues has delayed sentencing by a year and a half. Walshe pleaded guilty as part of a plea deal in 2021. The deal involved no jail time, but he had to either return the stolen paintings or pay restitution for them. 

So far, he has been unable to do either. In addition, Walshe is accused of destroying his father's will that disinherited him when he died back in 2018 and collecting tens of thousands of dollars from his father's estate not meant for him. This probate issue has been the latest delay in his ability to be sentenced and pay the three victims in the art heist case. 

"He's a calculated guy," Rivlin explained. "I've bought over a thousand Warhols and this is the one and only acquisition that got by me. He was that good...What happened to me is telling of [Walshe's] masterful ability to coerce people." 

Rivlin had spoken with Ana by phone when he was trying to get his money back from Brian Walshe. He said she was kind and seemed unaware of her husband's illegal dealings. "It's incredibly sad to learn that Ana is missing," he told WBZ. "As a parent of young children, I'm having a hard time processing this and hope that she is found and reunited with her family." 

Rivlin told WBZ he no longer cares about getting his money back: he just wants justice served in the criminal case that has gone on for more than six years. 

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