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Massachusetts Man Accused of Killing His Wife Sentenced in Art Fraud Case

Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Craig F. Walker/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Brian Walshe, the Massachusetts man charged with the murder of his real estate executive wife, was sentenced on Tuesday to 37 months behind bars in a separate criminal case involving a scam he orchestrated to sell counterfeit Andy Warhol paintings.

Walshe, 49, did not speak on his behalf during the sentencing hearing in Boston federal court, according to NBC Boston. His sentence is set to run concurrent to any state sentence he might face should be convicted of Ana Walshe’s slaying after a trial later this year.

On Tuesday, Walshe was also ordered to pay $475,000 in restitution, with credit for the $95,000 he’s already handed over to the government, according to the Department of Justice.

Walshe was first charged in the art fraud scheme in 2018. In 2021, he pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods, and unlawful monetary transaction.

His scam kicked off in 2016, when a buyer stumbled across two Warhols for sale—complete with authentication stamps—on eBay, according to the Justice Department. The buyer, believing they were real, arranged to purchase both paintings, purportedly part of the pop artist’s 1978 “Shadows” series, for $80,000.

The buyer only realized he’d been conned after an assistant delivered the paintings, which looked suspiciously new and bore no stamps.

“When he compared the paintings to the photographs from the eBay listing, they did not look identical,” a federal press release explained. “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.”

Brian Walshe Hired PI to Tail Wife Before Murder, Prosecutor Says

Walshe separately got his mitts on the real Shadow paintings at one point, tricking a friend in South Korea—the rightful owner—into handing them over by saying that he could get them a good price. Walshe then sold the paintings to a gallery in 2011, according to authorities. They were later sold again and remain unaccounted for.

The buyer, not named in the press release, is Los Angeles gallery owner Ron Rivlin, who told The Daily Beast last month that Walshe “knows how to play the legal system, he knows how to play everyone and everything.”

“I’ve bought over a thousand Warhols and this is the one and only acquisition that got by me,” Rivlin said. “He was that good. Clever playbook and Oscar-worthy performance.”

On Tuesday, Rivlin told The Daily Beast in a statement that the “measure of justice” that Walshe was finally facing for his art fraud “pales in comparison” to the tragedy of Ana Walshe’s presumed murder.

Brian was arrested on Jan. 18, 2023 in connection with the disappearance of Ana, 39, who’d last been seen alive 17 days earlier. The pair had been married for about seven years and had three young sons.

“The true gravity of the situation lies with the sorrow of three children left orphaned, overshadowing any victory we might claim,” Rivlin said Tuesday.

Ron Rivlin

Ron Rivlin.

Tanya Barcessat

Though Ana’s body has never been found, a police investigation turned up a broken, bloodied knife in the basement of the family’s home and unsettling Google searches for, among other things, ways to dispose of a small woman’s body.

Walshe was also captured on surveillance footage making a trip to a hardware store on Jan. 2, where he purchased $450 worth of cleaning supplies in cash, according to court documents—which noted that Walshe had told police he’d just stepped out that day to take his eldest son out for ice cream.

In March, he was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of first-degree murder, as well as misleading a police investigation/obstruction of justice and improper conveyance of a human body. He has pleaded not guilty in the case.

His next scheduled court appearance in the case is set for March 4, according to WCVB.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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