In 2008, Anna Ljubicic Knipp was an ambitious, well-educated young woman of 25 from Belgrade, Serbia, when she met her future husband, Brian Walshe.
Kripp was working at the picturesque Wheatleigh Hotel in the Berkshires. Walshe was the son of a prominent Boston neurosurgeon. One Serbian newspaper quoted Ana’s mother as saying she met Brian when she cleaned his apartment.
But the life they built together in a wealthy seaside suburb south of Boston, after marrying in Serbia in 2015, turned out to be toxic — with a slight “A Star is Born” vibe. And now Ana is missing, with her husband charged with misleading investigators in the case.
Last March, Ana Walshe got a big new job in Washington, DC, with the real-estate firm Tishman Speyer. It reportedly came with an increase in salary but meant she had to commute back and forth while her husband and kids were back in Cohasset, Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, her husband — whose LinkedIn profile lists roles at companies with little to no internet presence — was on house arrest for art fraud.
Ana Walshe may or may not have known that Brian’s cousin and two close friends of his father have alleged in scathing court documents that Brian was estranged from most of his family because he had stolen a million dollars from his father. They claim he tried to manipulate the elderly man after a stroke to get even more money from him.
The father’s friend of more than 35 years, Jeffrey Ornstein, stated in a 2019 affidavit that he had known Brian since the age of 13. He said that Brian’s father told him that the son had been a “long-term patient” at the Austin Riggs Psychiatric Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, and had been diagnosed as a “sociopath.”
Ornstein claimed that father and son were long estranged and that when Brian was let out a few years ago, after 12 or so years of no contact, Dr. Walshe turned him down.
“You’re my son and I will always hope for the best for you, but I do not want to re-engage,” Orenstein quoted the father as saying. “If I did, I know that I would be letting mayhem back into my life, and I can’t have that.”
Now, Ana’s mysterious disappearance from the family home on Dec. 31 has turned into a bloody mystery splashed all over newspapers in Belgrade and the US.
Her 47-year-old husband was charged this week with misleading investigators in the search for his wife. He’s currently being held on $500,000 bond and pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Monday.
Brian was already on house arrest and awaiting sentencing for selling two fake Andy Warhol paintings on eBay for $80,000.
Money may have been a stressor for the family.
“She is/was my landlord,” wrote Mandi Lee on Facebook, adding that her fiancé had known Ana for eight years but noticed a personality change recently. Ana, it seemed, wanted Mandi and her fiancé out of the home so she could sell it.
“When I refused … she got out of character and very angry,” Lee wrote, “and it seemed like we were ruining her plans… She also kept telling us she and Brian would have something for us in the New Year. I’m wondering what that was. A magic act? This is so crazy. I literally spoke to her days before she went missing.”
In addition to the art fraud, Brian, who was reportedly cut out of his father’s will, raided his dad’s $710,000 seaside home in Hull, Massachusetts, after the patriarch’s death in India in 2018, court documents show. According to the Daily Mail, Brian took thousands of dollars in valuable artwork by Salvador Dali and Joan Miró, as well as a car and luxury items.
The gallery owner who unwittingly bought the two fake Warhols on eBay in 2016 told reporters Tuesday that Walshe was a glib con man.
“He knows how to play the legal system, he knows how to play everyone and everything,” Ron Rivlin told The Daily Beast. “He’s very calculated.”
Ron Rivlin, owner of Revolver Gallery in Los Angeles, said Brian was initially “charismatic, articulate, transparent and professional” — but became “unreachable until I spoke to Ana at work, and later the FBI” after he sold the fake paintings.
Brian’s LinkedIn profile does not mention art dealing but instead says he is “CFO” of something called LETS: Leadership & Effective Teamwork Strategies, which does not seem to have much of a footprint online. The profile also shows he was the CFO of “Capital Letters Consulting,” which has little to no presence online.
Ana Walshe gushed about her husband in a letter to a federal judge last summer — expressing how much “joy” and “comfort” he brought the family and seeking leniency for him in the art fraud case, just months before he was charged in connection with her disappearance.
“During these eight months, our family was able to be together during many of the milestones,” Ana wrote, referring to the time that her husband had been on house confinement.
“Our youngest son turned one, our middle son started to speak and our eldest son who had just started kindergarten when we saw you last is now only a few weeks away from completing the year and preparing for first grade,” she wrote.
“He also lost his first tooth,” Ana added.
The 39-year-old was last seen alive on Jan. 1 following a New Year’s Eve dinner at her Cohasset home with her husband, children and a friend. Ana’s Instagram account features many influencer-like selfies of herself and very few photos of her husband.
Brian’s internet history indicated he searched “how to dispose of a 115-pound woman’s body” at the time of Ana’s disappearance, according to court documents. Evidence indicating foul play in the sinister disappearance includes a bloody knife in the family’s basement and Brian Walshe’s alleged purchase of $450 in cleaning supplies in the days after his wife vanished.
In addition, police have found a hatchet, blood, a hacksaw, trash bags, used cleaning supplies, and a rug at a transfer station in Peabody, Mass, just north of Boston, five miles from Brian’s mother’s home in Swampscott.
“She was a gorgeous woman from Serbia — I just wonder why she went for him,” said a neighbor of Brian’s mother, Diana Walshe, in Swampscott who did not want to be identified. “Nobody can figure out his game.”
Diana Walshe did not respond to a Post reporter who knocked on her door Tuesday.
Both Ana Walshe and her mother were apparently loyal to Walshe, whose personal and professional history appeared to be shady in the extreme, according to court documents.
Ana’s mother, Milanka Ljubicic, also wrote the judge a letter on her son-in-law’s behalf. The two women praised Brian for helping save her Ljubicic’s life when she had a brain aneurysm in 2021.
But Ana’s mother had a sudden reason to worry on Christmas.
She told Fox News that she got a message from her daughter on December 25, begging her to visit the next day.
“She just said, ‘Please, mama. Come tomorrow,’” Milanka Ljubicic said in an interview conducted Monday in Belgrade. “Which means that clearly, there must have been some problems.”