As the disappearance of Ana Walshe grows ever more mysterious, her husband, Brian, has emerged as a figure shrouded in his own mystery in the courts since 2018 and, to those who have known him, even longer.
Brian Walshe’s lopsided grin first entered Boston media in 2018, a photo pulled from a federal complaint laying out the details on an art-world fraud that had at minimum two victims — first the friend he took the Andy Warhol paintings from and then the man he sold fakes to.
But 2018 was also the year his father died while traveling in India that set into motion a Plymouth County Probate Court matter that continues to leave more questions than answers and continues to challenge any progress in Brian Walshe’s sentencing in the art world fraud, which has been rescheduled time and again to the chagrin of prosecutors, defense and U.S District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock.
“I want to find out what’s going on in probate court,” Woodlock said during a June 9 sentencing hearing, the third scheduled since Brian Walshe pleaded guilty on April 1, 2021.
Brian Walshe was the first and only child born to Diana and Dr. Thomas M. Walshe III, and the way things have played out, it seems the two parents viewed their son quite differently.
“My son is 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,” Diana wrote on her son’s behalf on Aug. 26, 2021. She says he is “the main caregiver for all his three sons. He cooks, shops, cleans, plays, communicates boundaries, and reads bed time stories.”
It was in care for his mother, who has battled lung cancer, Brian allegedly told police when they were investigating Ana Walshe’s disappearance on New Year’s Day, that he drove up to her home in Swampscott that day to make some errand runs to CVS and Whole Foods. Police now say that was a lie. They say his phone was pinging elsewhere, in Abington and Brockton, places he wasn’t allowed to go while under house arrest in the federal matter.
But if you are to believe the current representative of the late Dr. Walshe, the namesake of the general neurology division of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, the relationship between father and son was practically nonexistent.
The jetsetting doctor maintained a correspondence with his nephew Andrew Walshe. The younger man wrote in a December 2019 probate court affidavit that Dr. Walshe had asked him during the winter of 2019 to 2010 to be the executor of his estate, to which the nephew agreed.
“I understood … his son, Brian R Walshe had absconded with almost one million dollars from Dr. Thomas Walshe in prior years,” Andrew Walshe wrote. “The theft from his only son was tragic, not only in that it occurred, but also that Brian R Walshe essentially disappeared from his father’s life purposefully.”
The alleged event not only caused an “irreparable rift in their relationship,” but caused hardship for Dr. Walshe, as he “had to continue working past the age at which he wished to retire.”
In that case, Jeffrey Ornstein, the CEO of J/Brice Design International in Boston, who says he was Thomas Walshe’s “best friend,” had renovated the doctor’s home in Hull and was given the keys to the property. Upon Dr. Walshe’s death Sept. 21, 2018, Ornstein wrote that Brian contacted him for access to the home so he could get the legal documents needed to bring his father’s body back to the U.S.
While at the home, Ornstein attests, he saw a will left on Dr. Walshe’s desk, which specifically had disinherited his son. He says he took camera images of the document but left it where it was.
Brian Walshe filed as representative for his father’s estate on Dec. 6, 2018, stating that there was no will. Andrew Walshe challenged that and was appointed representative for the estate on July 17, 2019.
The feds wrote in a subsequent sentencing memo following those probate challenges that during the time the son was the representative, he liquidated lots of assets of the estate, including more than $100,000 in bank funds, paintings by Joan Miro and Dali, various art and even a car. They demand he make a full accounting of the assets of the estate.
“Unfortunately, in the intervening months, the lack of clarity surrounding the estate has allowed much of its value to likely have deteriorated,” Andrew Walshe wrote in his affidavit.