Russian artist accused of hiding Michael Brown's cash appears in court

By Amy Davis - Reporter/Consumer Expert

HOUSTON - There are new developments in the bankruptcy case of famous Houston hand surgeon Michael Brown. A Russian artist accused of hiding Brown's assets took the stand in federal court Friday.

Irina Bogatcheva told the court she met Brown at a party in Miami in the summer of 2013. She said Brown hired her to paint his portrait, but he took his life before the work was started.

Investigators say a cloth suitcase possibly stuffed with hundreds of thousands of dollars and six glass sculptures remain missing. According to court documents, Brown and his girlfriend twice delivered property to the Miami home of Bogatcheva before Brown died.

Bogatcheva was arrested in Miami in March by U.S. marshals for failing to appear in Houston bankruptcy court when she was subpoenaed.

Investigators found a bag filled with $77,000 in cash in a guest room closet of the Miami mansion. They tested the bills for Brown's fingerprints. In court, the trustee told the judge they didn't find Brown's prints on any of the bills tested.

The judge released Bogatcheva on the condition that she surrender her passport.

"We think she has the money," said attorney Spencer Solomon, who represents the trustee in court. "She may have spent it. She may have hidden it. We don't know."

Bogatcheva's attorneys tell Local 2 the trustee has frozen their clients accounts and assets and that she has not been able to pay her mortgage or other bills while she sat in jail the last three months.

When she was arrested by U.S. marshals in March, Bogatcheva left her home with nothing. It's why her attorneys say she has to take a bus back to Miami -- she can't fly without proper ID.

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