‘Lacks basic empathy’: Art scam victim of Brian Walshe speaks about his character

COHASSET, Mass. — Brian Walshe, the husband of the missing Cohasset mother of three, who is now charged in connection with the ongoing search, has had previous charges against him including pleading guilty to wire fraud and other federal charges involving fake Andy Warhol paintings. Walshe is on home confinement because of a federal conviction.

According to court documents, in 2016, Walshe, 46, stole a number of Warhols and other 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 sold one on eBay for $80,000 - but when the buyer, a California art gallery owner, received the painting - he knew it was fake.

The victim, in that case, was Ron Rivlin, the owner of Revolver Gallery in California, the largest Andy Warhol gallery worldwide.

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

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 Ana and the FBI. “He would only cooperate when he was forced to,” Rivlin said.

Rivlin told Boston 25 News that Walshe’s demeanor did a complete 180 when he was caught lying about the fake paintings he sold.

“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.”

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.

“What happened to me is telling of [Walshe’s] masterful ability to coerce and deceive people,” said Rivlin.

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. 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,” said Rivlin.

Rivlin said he was unable to get his full money back from Brian and just wants to see justice for his crime.

Sources tell Boston 25 Investigative Reporter Ted Daniel on Monday that Brian Walshe lived an affluent lifestyle. He used to host dinners for groups in Boston that cost $20,000 and more. According to sources, Walshe claimed to have made his money creating a software program in college.

The art scam case is separate from the investigation into his wife, Ana’s, disappearance, at which point Walshe has only been charged with misleading investigators.

Brian is due back in court at a later date as the search for Ana continues.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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