West Hollywood man sentenced in $6-million art fraud scheme

Fake artwork by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat
Philip Righter of West Hollywood tried to sell this fake artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat, authorities say.
(Associated Press)

A West Hollywood man who authorities say tried to sell $6 million worth of phony paintings by such artists as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat and other modern masters has been sentenced to five years in federal prison.

Philip Righter, 43, was sentenced Wednesday in a federal court in Miami after pleading guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft and tax fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

Righter was given 60 months in prison in a case that was filed in Los Angeles.

The judge also handed down a five-year sentence in a Florida case in which Righter acknowledged trying to sell forgeries to the owner of a Miami art gallery.

Both sentences will be served at the same time.

In a plea agreement, Righter acknowledged trying to sell counterfeit art that he claimed was genuine and using some fakes for income tax write-offs or as collateral for loans he never repaid.


Blake Gopnik’s definitive ‘Warhol’ gathers up all the receipts on the blank icon who stormed the barricades of art, only to serve it up to commerce.

Richter sold the bogus artworks from 2016 through June 2018, creating phony authentication documents, prosecutors said.

Some of the documents were stamped with counterfeits of the embossing stamps used by the estates of Basquiat and Keith Haring to authenticate pieces, prosecutors said.