As part of a case related to embattled dealer Inigo Philbrick, who pled guilty to wire fraud last year, another art dealer has also been indicted. News of Robert Newland’s indictment, which was unsealed on Friday, was first reported by Artnet News.
In the indictment signed by U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, a grand jury charged Newland, who is currently the head of sales for the art-and-technology firm Superblue, with having “provided false information and false documents and made material omissions regarding the sale, ownership and provenance of artworks.” The grand jury also said that Newland had played a role in creating “a scheme and artifice to defraud and for obtaining money and property by means of false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, and promises.”
Philbrick’s high-profile case kicked off in 2019, when the German firm Fine Art Partners sued him in Florida and accused him of withholding various works, including a Yayoi Kusama installation. Philbrick was also the subject of other lawsuits, among them one involving an allegedly withheld Rudolf Stingel painting. Philbrick, who has not yet been sentenced, could face up to 20 years in prison.
Newland’s alleged role in Philbrick’s operations still remains unclear. In a 2020 profile of Philbrick, GQ reported that Newland had at one point acted as an adviser to Philbrick; the two met at White Cube, the London gallery where Philbrick got his start and where Newland was previously a director. Newland appears to have left that gallery in 2015, according to GQ. The indictment called on him to forfeit any money or property gained in connection with his “offenses.”
Since then, Newland was named head of sales at Superblue, an art-and-technology-focused enterprise that is known for mounting immersive installations. Newland’s page on Superblue’s website has been taken down.
A Superblue representative said in an email that Newland is on temporary leave. “Robert Newland joined Superblue following an extensive background check, which affirmed he was not involved in Philbrick’s illegal activity,” the spokesperson added in a statement. “He has been an exemplary employee throughout his tenure at Superblue.”