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Ana Walshe’s husband has a history of chasing the good life — with other people’s money

A life of privilege and deceit: Brian Walshe allegedly fleeced his landlord, his friends, even his dad

Ana Walshe and her husband, Brian.Facebook

For most of his 47 years, Brian R. Walshe glided effortlessly through a rarefied world.

He attended boarding school and studied at top-notch universities. He was a wine connoisseur, a concierge, an art dealer. He boasted of buying out a Boston restaurant’s entire stock of white truffles during a night out.

Personable and well-spoken, with a thick head of dark hair, he was a child of privilege who from an early age seemed to revel in his proximity to the elite; as a teen, a family friend recalled, Walshe would sometimes don a suit and tie and head to the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Boston to sip Cokes among the city’s power brokers.


“He was obsessed with the finer things in life,” said a family friend, who asked not to be identified by name so he could speak freely. “He was well-informed, he was charming. He prided himself on being sophisticated.”

Now, Walshe stands at the center of a quickly evolving mystery, jailed and charged with misleading police in their investigation of the disappearance of his wife, Ana Walshe, who went missing from their Cohasset home on Jan. 1.

Just days after lauding Brian Walshe’s cooperation in the case, authorities are now questioning his account and disclosing potential evidence, including a bloodied knife in the couple’s home and video footage allegedly showing Walshe — wearing a surgical mask and gloves — purchasing $450 in cleaning supplies from a Home Depot shortly after his wife disappeared.

Investigators are also combing through Walshe’s complicated past, which includes a recent federal conviction for fraud in a high-stakes art scam. In that case, federal prosecutors said he was fueled by a desire for a lavish lifestyle he couldn’t afford. Interviews with those who know him, as well as an extraordinary trove of documents from the federal prosecution of Walshe for art fraud that provide insight into his family life and background, paint the father of three as a master manipulator and seasoned schemer who left in his wake a long list of aggrieved former friends and business partners — including his dentist and his own father, who died in 2018.


As early as 2011, federal prosecutors said, Walshe bragged in diary entries about the ease with which he could con those closest to him; it’s “easy for me to do them up,” he once wrote, court records show. A federal prosecutor alleged in the art case that Walshe likely “committed fraud and embezzlement” by taking cash and items from his late father’s estate.

Walshe admitted in 2021 to selling a pair of fake Andy Warhol paintings to buyers in Los Angeles, conning them out of $80,000.

“He traveled to multiple countries. He enlisted multiple artists to prepare fake paintings, with multiple lies,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing related to his art fraud. “He manipulated and stole from people who trusted him, welcomed him into their homes, and considered him a close friend.”

What made him so good, so believable?

“His likability, communication, his reassurance,” prosecutors said. He seemed, his victims told authorities, credible.

Brian Walshe, of Cohasset, is charged with impeding the investigation into his wife, Ana's, disappearance from their home.Greg Derr/The Patriot Ledger/pool

Walshe started life with a leg up.

His father, Thomas M. Walshe, was a prominent neurologist who headed the division of general neurology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston from 2005 through 2018. He taught at Harvard Medical School, wrote books, and translated ancient Greek texts. He also dabbled in art.


Brian Walshe’s mother, educated in science and engineering, came from a family with generational wealth, but that also experienced despair and tragedy that would carry through to her son. Brian Walshe’s childhood was beset by emotional abuse from a reclusive mother and a father who partied, Walshe’s attorney wrote in a court memo. Brian Walshe was left “neglected, unloved, and emotionally damaged,” his psychiatrist reported, according to a court filing. His parents divorced in 2003, records show.

After attending boarding school in Rhode Island, he enrolled briefly at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh before checking himself into Austen Riggs, a high-end mental health facility in the Berkshires.

He had to leave prematurely, however, when his parents fought over who should pay for his treatment. Eventually, the treatment facility sued the Walshes for payment, records show.

For years, he bounced from school to school — University of Massachusetts Amherst, Northeastern University, and the JFK School of Government at Harvard University, according to court records. At one point, he worked as the personal concierge to a wealthy family, the friend said, traveling the world to carry out jewelry and art purchases.

Then, in the early 2000s, Walshe approached his father about a potential real estate deal, the family friend told the Globe in an account supported by witness accounts outlined in probate and federal court filings. The younger Walshe had recently taken over the deed and mortgage payments of a dilapidated home in Lenox, and father and son came to an arrangement: Thomas Walshe would pay to renovate the home; when it sold, the father would get back only what he’d put in, leaving his son with a sizable nest egg upon which to build a life.


The elder Walshe poured more than $500,000 into the renovations and the home was refinanced, according to the family friend and a court affidavit. On the night of the closing, father and son spoke over the phone, and Brian Walshe was supposed to send a check to his father with his share of the deal. Instead, the friend said, Brian Walshe disappeared with the money.

Thomas Walshe, the court filings said, didn’t hear from his son for more than a decade.

In the meantime, Brian Walshe strove to climb life’s ladder, using those around him to aid his ascent.

A college friend of Walshe told the FBI that Walshe “borrowed” $500,000 from them and never repaid it, according to prosecutors. In a search of Walshe’s house, the FBI recovered a contract and “demand letters” from attorneys from the friend.

Another friend said he liked to attend elaborate, expensive dinners — and ask his friends to foot the bill, court records show. One reported that Walshe had used an e-mail address from this person’s workplace to pretend to be the company’s CEO, a move that landed Walshe’s friend in hot water.

No sleight of hand was too small. He was accused of depositing more than $30,000 in bad checks. According to prosecutors, the owner of Walshe’s former condo in Lynn said Walshe had failed to forward a check made out to them. Walshe cashed it and kept the money.


In 2008, he met a woman who worked at the Wheatleigh Hotel in Lenox: Ana Knipp. For her, it was love at first sight, she recalled in a court filing she submitted on his behalf in the art fraud case.

Knipp either was married at the time, or married shortly later, to a man who worked as a chef at the hotel. They ultimately divorced in 2014, records show.

For a few years, Walshe and Knipp maintained a long-distance relationship, she said in her court filing. In 2015, Ana Knipp, who emigrated from Serbia about a decade earlier, moved to Boston permanently. They were engaged and married that year. A year later, they had their first child.

As his family grew, however, Brian Walshe continued to scheme.

In 2021, he admitted in federal court to selling a pair of phony Andy Warhol paintings for $80,000, after claiming they were part of the celebrated artist’s “Shadows” collection. He scammed Ron Rivlin, owner of the Warhol-focused Revolver Gallery in Los Angeles, who was a seasoned collector.

Though not charged in connection with the fraud, Ana Walshe was linked to it peripherally, records show. Her eBay account was used in 2016 to offer two Warhol paintings for sale at $240,000, according to an affidavit by FBI Special Agent Kristin Koch. Ana Walshe also had two contacts with one of the victims. The FBI sought to obtain her fingerprints and DNA samples, according to a 2018 search warrant application. It’s unclear if that happened.

In April 2021, Brian Walshe pleaded guilty in US District Court in Boston to one count each of wire fraud, interstate transportation for a scheme to defraud, possession of converted goods, and unlawful monetary transaction.

His attorney did not respond to a Globe request for comment.

Moments before a judge was set to hand down a sentence of probation, the government argued that Walshe appeared to have violated the terms of his presentence release. Investigators soon concluded Walshe had obstructed justice and lied to probation officials, records show, in an apparent effort to avoid paying restitution to his victims.

Investigators found Walshe lied about the extent of the financial help he was receiving from his mother. “From the date of his arrest through December 2021, the defendant had received $512,289 from his mother directly or indirectly as payments to his attorneys,” prosecutors noted.

Walshe also failed to disclose other household assets — including retirement accounts, a 2014 Fiat and a 2015 Maserati, and several pieces of real estate, records show — and gave false information about the money he received from his father’s estate. Prosecutors wrote that Walshe had obtained cash and assets from his father’s estate that he was not entitled to and “thus likely committed fraud and embezzlement.”

“We have someone who . . . contends he doesn’t have access to funds,” US District Judge Douglas P. Woodlock said in a June 9 sentencing hearing. “We have materials that suggest that he does.”

Relatives and friends wrote letters to the judge on Walshe’s behalf, part of an effort to soften his sentence. While prosecutors painted him as a con man, Walshe’s friends portrayed him as a dad devoted to charity and helping others. Several recent associates highlighted his participation in a business leadership program, the Boston Breakthrough Academy, and said his business prospects were looking up.

In his own letter to the judge, Walshe expressed confidence in his prospects, and pledged to put aside all of his earnings into an account earmarked for restitution to those he hoodwinked.

“I have created a contract for myself: ‘I am an honest, courageous, loving leader,’ ” Walshe wrote. “I repeat this contract to myself on a daily basis. I train every day on 100 percent integrity, 100 percent of the time.”

Walshe asked the judge for the opportunity to stay out of prison.

“My only declaration and intention is to be of service to our community and beyond,” he wrote.

“I am not a threat to any members of our society.”

While Walshe’s freedom hung in the balance, the couple’s relationship underwent a significant shift.

Last March, Ana Walshe took a job with Tishman Speyer, a major real estate firm that granted a big salary bump and excellent health care benefits, according to prosecutors, but also required her to work in Washington, D.C., for much of the week. That month, she purchased a home in D.C.’s Chevy Chase neighborhood for $1.3 million. Brian Walshe’s legal troubles prevented him from joining her, his attorney said in a court memo.

As his wife embarked on a new job nearly 500 miles away, Walshe and the couple’s three sons moved to a house rented by his mother in Cohasset. He took care of his sons during the week. He also cared for his ailing mother, who lived with them when his wife was not in town, according to a court memo filed last June.

In a letter to the judge, Diana Walshe described her son as “the ONLY reason I get up in the morning. He is the ONLY person to take care of me and he is always there for me.”

“Unfortunately, I do not have a good relationship with my daughter-in-law,” she wrote, “perhaps due to cultural differences.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, Ana Walshe’s mother, Milanka Ljubicic, told Fox News that her daughter had pleaded with her to come to the United States in late December, just a week before her disappearance. “Clearly,” Ljubicic said in an interview, “there must have been some problems.”

Still, as 2022 wound to a close, the Walshes planned to spend New Year’s Eve together, inviting a friend for dinner at their Cohasset home.

The friend, Gem Mutlu, arrived at the Walshes’ home around 8:30 p.m., he told the Globe. A smiling Ana greeted him in the driveway. Brian cooked dinner. The trio took photos together and spoke of future plans. At one point, one of the couple’s young children ventured out of bed and joined the group.

The night was festive and relaxed, Mutlu said. When he left around 1:30 a.m., nothing seemed amiss.

The following day, Mutlu said, he texted the couple to thank them for hosting.

Only Brian Walshe responded.

Walshe ambled into a dreary Quincy courtroom Monday, looking pale and disheveled, his hair thinning.

He stood handcuffed, charged with misleading investigators. Norfolk County prosecutors said investigators found blood and a bloodied knife in the basement of the couple’s home. Authorities have not directly implicated Walshe in his wife’s disappearance.

Also among the evidence: footage allegedly showing him paying cash for $450 in cleaning supplies from a Home Depot in Rockland shortly after his wife was last seen. The supplies included mops, buckets, and tape.

Later Monday night, investigators in hazmat suits scoured a collection of trash dumpsters at the Swampscott apartment complex where Walshe’s mother lives, as well as a Peabody landfill.

Authorities were still searching for Ana Walshe.

See the Globe’s full coverage of this case.

Dugan Arnett can be reached at dugan.arnett@globe.com. Brendan McCarthy can be reached at brendan.mccarthy@globe.com.