The summer of scam may feel like a distant dream, but, as they say, there’s no rest for the wicked. Last year, we were enamoured by the story of the now-notorious Anna Delvey, who posed as a Russian heiress to swindle friends and high-flying investors out of millions. Delvey, now imprisoned on multiple counts of fraud and theft, has a podcast and two TV series about her in the works – but now, there’s another story of art world scamming and potential stealing that’s rousing interest, with ‘art heiress’ Angela Gulbenkian.
First hitting the press in 2018, the 37-year-old is facing multiple allegations of fraudulent art dealing, relating to the incomplete sale of works by Andy Warhol and Yayoi Kusama, amounting to over £1 million.
As she’s slapped with a second lawsuit and is due to stand trial in May this year, here’s everything you need to know about the curious story of socialite and major art collector Gulbenkian.
WHO IS ANGELA GULBENKIAN?
Gulbenkian grew up as Angela Ischwang in Munich, where her mother reportedly still runs an optometry business. After moving to London in the early 2000s to study politics and history, Gulbenkian met and married football agent Duarte Gulbenkian, the great-grand nephew of oil tycoon, philanthropist, and art collector Calouste Gulbenkian. After initially working in marketing and PR, Gulbenkian set up a company called FAPS-Net in 2016 with art advisor Florentine Rosemeyer, which was in business until spring 2018. Rosemeyer later hired Gulbenkian at her Munich-based art consulting firm, Rosemeyer Art Advisors. No mention is currently made of Gulbenkian’s involvement on the company’s website, though it previously listed her as someone who “brokers high end art works”, contributing “valuable contacts, access to sought-after art works, and specific marketing know-how” to the company.
According to an interview with Portugese news site Jornal de Negocios, Gulbenkian and her husband moved to Lisbon – where the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation is based – in 2016, though she continued to run her London-based private art sales project, called Fine Art Private Sale. Discussing her newfound attempt to sell art in Portugal, Gulbenkian acknowledged relying on her prestigious surname. “In the art world, this name opens doors,” she said, “but does not close deals. People expect more from us. It is a challenge, I like challenges.” Gulbenkian’s now-private Instagram account still describes her as a “fine art collector” and mentions the Gulbenkian Private Art Collection in her bio, despite the foundation asserting she has no affiliation with them.