A trove of art stolen in the ’90s has turned up. LAPD is looking for the original owners
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A quarter-century has passed since the Los Angeles Police Department began investigating a string of break-ins at expensive homes in Hollywood and across the city’s wealthy Westside.
Dozens of artifacts — including paintings from Picasso and Spanish compatriot Joan Mirò, antique firearms and documents signed by former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Howard Taft — had vanished from their walls, pedestals and cases.
Working alongside Interpol, the LAPD managed to capture two men involved in the burglary spree in 1993, but the valuables appeared to be lost for good.
But this summer, detectives received a strange phone call from a Southern California auctioneer. The man recognized a few pictures of stolen items on the department’s website. They were in his gallery.
The tip led police to execute four search warrants in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Detectives recovered more than 100 stolen paintings, documents and other antiques, and are now hoping to reunite the pilfered pieces with their rightful owners, investigators said Wednesday.
Police have yet to identify each item or estimate the total value of the haul, though they are working alongside experts and officials at the J. Paul Getty Museum to catalog the pieces, said Capt. Lillian Carranza, who heads the LAPD’s Commercial Crimes Division.
“We are in the process of identifying the specific art, artists and how much it might be worth,” she said.
Carranza declined to identify the auctioneer or auction house that tipped off the LAPD, but said the person who provided the art to the auction house was related to one of the original suspects in the case. Police believe the person inherited the stolen artwork from the suspect, who has since died.
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