Philip Bennet Righter, of Los Angeles, is facing up to 25 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to federal charges of art fraud. The US Attorney’s Office of Central District of California has been investigating Righter since 2016, and claims he defrauded clients of over $758,000 by selling fake works by blue chip artists (Basquiat, Haring, Warhol, etc.). He faces similar charges in the State of Florida after being arrested, in 2019, for theft and allegedly attempting to defraud a Miami gallery of $1 million.
According to reports, Righter supposedly purchased fake works of art on eBay, falsified certificates of authenticity, and resold the paintings as authentic works. He went a step further by purchasing “custom stamps featuring the insignias of artists’ estates, and cited Basquiat’s former dealer, Annina Nosei Gallery, in provenance documents.”
Not only did Righter sell fake works to unsuspecting people, but used a fake Basquiat as collateral for a loan (which he defaulted on), made art donations to charities, and even claimed to have had $2.5 million worth of art stolen from his home.
It will be interesting to see how much time he actually gets.