Sunday, June 17, 2012

Art thefts

Pablo Picasso, "Femme au Chignon" [woman with bun]," 1957 lithograph
A week ago, Greg Atamaniuk was walking in the Edenvale neighborhood of San Jose, California, when he was puzzled to find a Picasso print leaning against the entrance to a trail. It wasn't a dog-eared poster from an art student's wall or a reproduction put out with the trash when a room was redecorated - it was an original (from the series above), worth an estimated $30,000! "It's something that you don't find usually on your morning hikes," said Atamaniuk, who turned it over to police. The artwork had been hanging in the 9-bedroom, 19,500 sq. ft. house of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko. The mansion is 70 miles away in Novato, but its owner is 350 miles away in a federal prison near Los Angeles. While Lazarenko was doing time for money laundering, some teenagers apparently took the opportunity to party on his property. More than 100 of them held a party on May 27th and fled after the caretaker called police. After 3 more were chased out of the backyard the following day, the caretaker noticed the Picasso missing, along with $5,000 worth of silver candlesticks, leather coats, and laptop computers. Officials assume the print was intentionally left where it would be found.

A valuable painting was also left behind at a home invasion in Sweden, it was reported on Friday. The homeowner was bound and threatened with a knife by 2 men who forced their way into his house in Stockholm. They stole 3 paintings, but abandoned them. Two were found in a dumpster nearby, but the 3rd - an 1877 work by Carl Larsson, ”Clair-Obscur” ["Light-Shadow"], believed to be worth more than half a million dollars - was too big (130 × 102.5 cm) to fit in their getaway car! “I was standing 10m from where they ran out. They tried to get the painting in the car, but it was too big. They threw it aside when we came,” said a witness, adding that they almost ran it over in their hurry to get away.

Meanwhile, a $5 million reward has been offered for information leading to the recovery of paintings - by masters including Rembrandt, Degas, and Vermeer - stolen in 1990 from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Garner Museum (more here), but only $5,000 is being offered for information on a collection including drawings, prints, and paintings by Joseph Beuys and his contemporaries (more here).

Thanks for the link that sparked this post, Melissa!
Previous posts about art and artifacts destroyed or stolen:

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