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Massachusetts man accused of murdering, dismembering wife, sentenced to prison on unrelated charges

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BOSTON – A Lynn man was sentenced today in connection with a years-long, multi-faceted art fraud scheme involving two purported Andy Warhol paintings.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Justice, 49-year-old Brian R. Walshe was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge William G. Young to 37 months in prison and three years of supervised release. Walshe was also ordered to pay restitution of $475,000. In April 2021, Walshe pleaded guilty to one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud and unlawful monetary transaction.

In early November 2016, a buyer found two Andy Warhol paintings for sale on eBay. The paintings were two of Warhol’s “Shadows,” a series of untitled, abstract canvas paintings from 1978. The original listing price for the paintings was $100,000.

In the advertisement, Walshe – the eBay seller – included a picture of an invoice for the two Warhol Shadow paintings with Warhol Foundation numbers and a purchase price of $240,000.

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. 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 to retrieve the paintings, providing Walshe with a cashier’s check for $80,000. The cashier’s check was deposited that day into an account that Walshe controlled and $33,400 was subsequently withdrawn in the following 14 days.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 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 initially gained access to the paintings through a victim who was his friend. While visiting the victim in South Korea, Walshe told the victim that he could sell some of the art for a good price. The victim agreed and let Walshe take the two Shadow paintings and other fine art pieces. A subsequent investigation revealed that Walshe sold the original Shadow paintings to a gallery in 2011. Those paintings passed through multiple hands until they were sold to buyers outside the country. To date, the government has not regained possession of the original Shadow paintings.

Additionally, the investigation also revealed that, sometime in 2011, Walshe obtained a different set of replica Shadow paintings from an artist who did not know Walshe’s purpose. In 2015, Walshe sold that set to another victim who resided in France. 

Brian Walshe is facing murder charges in the death of his wife and mother of 3, Ana Walshe.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division made the announcement today. The Lynn Police Department provided assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy E. Moran, Kunal Pasricha and Philip A. Mallard of the Criminal Division and Carol E. Head, Chief of the Asset Recovery Unit prosecuted the case.

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