Ex-Augusta National employee pleads guilty to stealing Arnold Palmer’s green jacket in $5.3 million Masters memorabilia scheme

CHICAGO — An ex-employee of Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia pleaded guilty in federal court in Chicago on Wednesday to stealing golf legend Arnold Palmer’s green jacket as part of a 13-year scheme to illegally fence more than $5 million worth of Masters Tournament memorabilia.

Richard Brendan Globensky, 39, of Augusta, Ga., entered his guilty plea to one count of transporting stolen goods across state lines during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman.

The charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, but preliminary federal sentencing guidelines call for a range of 2 to 2 1/2 years behind bars, according to prosecutors.

Globensky appeared in court dressed in a gray suit and red tie. Before entering his guilty plea, Globensky told the judge he’s currently unemployed and previously “did mortgages.”

Prosecutors said Globensky is cooperating with the ongoing investigation.

Globensky, who had worked as an assistant at Augusta National’s warehouse since 2007, admitted stealing millions of dollars worth of merchandise from the facility from 2009 to 2022 by loading it onto a truck and hiding it in an offsite storage facility.

According to his plea agreement with prosecutors, Globensky then coordinated with a Florida-based memorabilia broker, who sold the items in online auctions. The broker, identified in court records only as Individual A, paid Globensky through various means, including through a limited liability company in the name of Globensky’s wife, according to the plea.

Many of the stolen items were more mundane keepsakes like porcelain bowls, scorecards and commemorative putters.

But there were also big-ticket items like green jackets, which are awarded each year to the winner of the Masters tournament and typically kept under tight control by Augusta National, according to the plea.

One of the green jackets Globensky admitted stealing had been awarded to Palmer in 1958 after his first Masters championship, according to the plea. Palmer, who won a total of four Masters tournaments from 1958 to 1964, died in 2016 at age 87.

Globensky also stole green jackets given by the club to legendary golfers Ben Hogan and Gene Sarazen, according to the plea.

In all, Globensky was paid about $5.3 million for the items he stole, though the actual loss to Augusta National was closer to $3.5 million, according to the plea.

As part of his plea, Globensky agreed to hand over a cashier’s check for $1.5 million to the government within the next few days. The rest of the money will be due after he serves his sentence.

The charges against Globensky were filed just days after Augusta hosted the 88th annual Masters Tournament in April, ending with Scottie Scheffler winning his second green jacket.

A private, for-profit club, Augusta National was founded by Bobby Jones and Clifford Roberts in 1932 and has hosted the Masters since 1934. The club is notoriously strict with its rules and is known to ban scofflaws for infractions such as running on the course or using a cellphone.

Augusta is also very protective of official memorabilia, particularly the prized green jacket, which it began awarding to Masters champions in 1949.

In 2013, the club sued a Texas auction house that was attempting to sell a green jacket allegedly stolen from Art Wall after he won the 1959 Masters, according to news reports. The complaint stated that an internal investigation had shown three employees were responsible for the theft of Wall’s jacket as well as other items of value from the Augusta grounds.

In a similar lawsuit four years later, Augusta National accused a Florida auction house of advertising the sale of the green jacket awarded to Byron Nelson in 1966, years after his 1937 and 1942 Masters wins, court records show. That jacket had last been inventoried in storage at the club in 2009 but the complaint stated it was unclear how the jacket wound up on the auction block.

According to the suit, the green jacket is “probably the most coveted award in the golfing world” and remains the property of the club. The winner is allowed to remove the jacket from the Augusta National grounds only within a year of winning it, according to the lawsuit. Afterward, the jacket must be stored on the club’s premises and can only be used during the Masters tournament.

Both lawsuits were eventually settled, court records show.