Last month, Philbrick failed to appear for court hearings in Miami and London. His lawyers in Miami stopped representing him. Philbrick didn’t return emails and calls seeking comment.

And so, for now, the questions keep coming.

“What was he thinking?” said Wendy Goldsmith, a London-based art adviser.

Adam Lindemann, a dealer and collector, said Philbrick seemed to come out of nowhere, and Lindemann was never quite sure where he got his funding.

“He had this charming, rogue manner about him,” Lindemann said. “The art world always has people like this.”

Lowell Pettit, an art adviser in New York, said Philbrick seemed to have a lot of money behind him at a very early point in his career. “In short order, his name started to light up.”

Now, some investors say in lawsuits that Philbrick wasn’t all he appeared to be.

Singapore-based LLG PTE Ltd. told a London judge that evidence suggests he holds, directly or indirectly, $70 million worth of assets. It put the combined value of the art managed by his businesses at as much as $150 million. This includes a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat, which another investor, Satfinance Investment Ltd., agreed to buy with Philbrick for $18.4 million — only to learn belatedly that the price was inflated by about $6 million, according to court filings.

Another contested work, a $3.4 million installation by Yayoi Kusama, is drawing crowds in Miami, next door to Philbrick’s darkened gallery. The display is by Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art, a local museum where Philbrick was a regular donor.

FAP GmbH, a German investment company that bought the work through Philbrick, wants the Kusama back. But the installation appears to have been sold months ago to the Royal Commission for AlUla in a private transaction through Phillips auction house.