All That Glitters: A Story of Friendship, Fraud and Fine Art by Orlando Whitfield - review by Georgina Adam

Georgina Adam

In the Frame

All That Glitters: A Story of Friendship, Fraud and Fine Art

By

Profile 336pp £20
 

The jet-setting, apparently highly successful American art dealer Inigo Philbrick suddenly vanished from Miami in late 2019, leaving at least $86 million of debt. Accusations of fraud, double-dealing, forgery and inventing fictitious buyers for works he didn’t even own had begun to swirl around him. With lawsuits piling up, this ‘Bernie Madoff of the art world’ was nabbed nine months later in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, a remote island republic in the Pacific, and sent for trial in Manhattan. He pleaded guilty to fraud in 2021 and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He was released in February this year.

Orlando Whitfield, who counted Philbrick as a close friend from their time together at Goldsmiths, has written a highly personal account of their relationship and the feelings of confusion, even betrayal, it gave rise to. Were they ever really friends at all? ‘When Inigo and I, inexperienced and wet behind the ears, started dealing art together … it was the beginning of a friendship which, more and longer than any other, has shaped the way I experience and confront the world,’ he writes at the beginning of the book. ‘Inigo’s career in the upper echelons of the contemporary

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