Art Market

Billionaire art collecting brothers are caught up in the scandal surrounding disgraced dealer Inigo Philbrick.

Christy Kuesel
Dec 11, 2019 5:07PM, via Bloomberg

Simon Reuben (left) and David Reuben (right). Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images for Lyric Hammersmith.

One of the mystery players in the scandal surrounding art dealer Inigo Philbrick has been revealed: The pair of billionaire brothers David and Simon Reuben has been confirmed to be the owners of Guzzini Properties Ltd., one of the parties claiming ownership of a work sold by Philbrick, who has vanished. The Reuben brothers come from the second richest family in the U.K., according to the Sunday Times.

Guzzini Properties sued Philbrick over Rudolf Stingel’s 2012 portrait of Pablo Picasso in October. The suit claimed that the firm had purchased the Stingel portrait and two other works for $6 million in 2017, and that Guzzini then sold the work through Christie’s in May of this year for $6.5 million. However, Christie’s still holds the work because two other companies have a financial involvement in the painting: Satfinance Investment Ltd. paid the art dealer $3.35 million for half of the work in January of 2016, while German financial services firm FAP GmbH claims it bought the painting in full for $7.1 million in February 2016.

“Given the ongoing nature of the multiple legal cases in this matter, Christie’s agrees that determination of rightful ownership of the Stingel work by the courts is the next necessary step forward,” Christie’s said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.

Philbrick himself has disappeared: His galleries in Miami and London appear to have closed, and he has missed court hearings in those cities. His lawyers in Miami no longer represent him, and his assets were frozen by a judge in London.

Philbrick is at the center of several other lawsuits in New York, Miami and London. The Stingel portrait isn’t the only work sold by Philbrick to which companies have staked competing claims: In October, FAP GmbH sued Philbrick for refusing to move pieces they claimed they purchased to “independent specialist storage facilities.” One of the works mentioned in the lawsuit, Yayoi Kusama’s installation All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins (2016) is on display at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, and has reportedly been sold to the Royal Commission for AlUla.

Christy Kuesel