COHASSET, Massachusetts – The art fraudster husband, who is criminally charged with impeding an investigation into his wife’s mysterious disappearance, was branded a “sociopath” and “physically violent” in court documents that allege he plundered his dead father’s estate.
Brian Walshe, whose wife Ana Walshe went missing from their Cohasset home on New Year’s Day, was cut out of his neurologist father’s will – but the art fraudster allegedly destroyed the document in 2018 and looted the estate, according to federal prosecutors overseeing his fraud case.
Dr. Thomas Morecroft Walshe died unexpectedly on a trip to India, leaving his son “my best wishes but nothing else” and an ensuing court battle over his will that entangled friends and family.
“I witnessed firsthand what Brian was capable of,” wrote Thomas’ friend Dr. Fred Pescatore in a 2019 affidavit filed in Plymouth Probate Court.
“I saw Brian attempt to smuggle out antiquities from China. When Brian was confronted, he picked up a stanchion and literally attempted to kill four or five guards that had come to talk to him about his crime. Brian is not only a sociopath, but also a very angry and physically violent person,” wrote Pescatore, who is a beneficiary of Thomas’ will.
Brian is locked up on $500,000 bond on a charge that he misled investigators about his whereabouts after his Tishman Speyer executive wife vanished on Jan. 1.
The convicted art swindler, who shares three young boys with his missing wife, was on house arrest for selling fake Andy Warhol paintings at the time.
After his father died, Brian asked his dad’s close friend, Jeffrey Ornstein, to let him into the family’s seaside home in Hull, Massachusetts, to obtain paperwork he needed to have his body returned to the U.S.
Ornstein, an esteemed hotel designer, stopped by the property to pick up a spare set of keys for Brian and spotted his friend’s 2016 will on his desk.
“I hereby bequeath to Brian R. Walshe my best wishes but nothing else from my estate,” the will stated, according to court documents.
Ornstein secretly took pictures of the document before handing over the keys to Brian but did not tell him he had been disinherited.
Brian allegedly destroyed the will and had himself appointed as the estate’s representative, then drained $100,000 from his father’s bank accounts, listed the house for sale and held a “spectacular oceanfront estate sale,” federal prosecutors charge in court papers.
He allegedly hawked “paintings by Joan Miro and Dali, oriental rugs, Merona glass, Asian art, pottery and even a car,” the papers allege.
Andrew Walshe, the estate’s rightful executor and Thomas’ nephew, couldn’t reach his uncle for months. He finally contacted Ornstein in May 2019 and discovered his uncle had died and Brian had allegedly seized the estate.
The father and son had been estranged for years after Brian allegedly “absconded with almost one million dollars from Dr. Thomas Walshe,” Andrew wrote in an affidavit.
Brian disappeared, and his father was left to “continue working past the age at which he had wished to retire, as a significant amount of his savings were stolen,” according to Andrew’s affidavit.
From 2005 to 2018, Thomas headed the division of general neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In April 2021, Brian pleaded guilty to selling fake 1978 Andy Warhol paintings to a dealer in California for $80,000 and another buyer in France for $145,000.
The forgeries were copied off originals he had obtained from a college friend after agreeing to help him sell them. Instead, he pocketed the proceeds.
The motive for these frauds was “to sustain his lavish lifestyle,” and after Brian received the $145,000 payment, “he and his wife went shopping at Prada,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Moran wrote in a filing.
U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock was about to hand Brian a no-jail plea deal in October when prosecutors revealed the alleged fraud and embezzlement of his father’s estate.
Moran specifically pointed out that Brian had failed to list the sale of his father’s property and other assets in his financial disclosure before the sentencing. This included more than $600,000 from his mother since his 2018 arrest and his wife’s assets.
The omission is particularly striking, Moran wrote, given that his “wife benefited from the fraud here, which took place before they were married but were together.”
Brian transferred approximately $115,000 directly to Ana from funds that came from victims, the prosecutor wrote in the filing.
The judge ordered a trial to determine whether Brian misrepresented his assets and misappropriated money from his father’s estate.
“I want to make a resolution, a factual resolution here, and that factual resolution is critically important to the sentence that I impose,” the judge said at a June 9 hearing. The trial doesn’t appear to have taken place, according to the case’s docket.
Brian hasn’t been criminally charged for the alleged theft from his late father’s estate.
His attorney, Tracy Miner, didn’t immediately return a request for comment.
She previously told Fox News, “I am not doing press interviews or even responding to inquiries, as right now my focus is on defending my client in court.”