September 25, 2012

Santa Monica Art Collector offers Million Dollar Reward for Stolen Mondrian plus $500,000 for other paintings

Composition (A) En Rouge Et Blanc
by Piet Mondrian
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Santa Monica is a liberal seaside town -- once nicknamed 'The Republic of Santa Monica' -- offering access to beach and upscale amenities just 30 miles west of downtown Los Angeles.  This community of rent controlled apartments (located south) and multi-million dollar homes (located north) around Montana Avenue attracts homeless people to the parks and families to the good public schools.  Last year James "Whitey" Bulgar, Boston's notorious Irish mobster and one of the FBI's most wanted criminals for almost two decades was found in a rent-controlled apartment just blocks up from the busy retail district known as The Third Street Promenade.  Now one of Santa Monica's residents, a wealthy art collector and bond trader, has offered a substantial reward, including $1,000,000 for the return of his painting by Piet Mondrian, for art stolen from his home in September.

Jeffrey Gundlach, founder of the investment firm DoubleLine Capital, held a press conference September 24 to offer a $1.7 million reward for the fine art paintings and other objects taken in a burglary now being investigated by Santa Monica police ("Reward offered by L. A. bond guru adds to intrigue over art theft", Los Angeles Times, September 24, 2012).

"Green Target" by Jasper Johns
Gundlach is offering $1 million for the "undamaged return" (or information leading to) of a picture by Piet MOndrian and another $500,000 for the "successful return undamaged" of "Green Target" by Jasper Johns and two box constructions by Joseph Cornell  ("Bond trader offers $1.7-million reward for stolen art collection"LA Now, Los Angeles Times).  At the brief press conference, Gundlach said "no comment" regarding questions about whether or not the 13 pieces of fine art were insured and or any  details about the burglary or the investigation.  In this article, the LA Times showed images and identification provided by the owner of ten of the 13 stolen artworks: "The Cathedral Tours", 1916, by Guy Rose; "Glory of Autumn", 1930, a California landscape by William Wendt; "Untitled", 1958, abstract by Franz Kline; "Number 14," 1949, by Bradley Walker Tomlin; "The Desert Ramparts", 1920, an oil painting by Hanson Duvall Puthuff; "Green Target", 1956, by Jasper Johns; "Composition (A) En Rouge Et Blanc", 1936, by Piet Mondrian; "Medici Boy", 1946, a wood box construction by Joseph Cornell; and "Painting", 1950, by Philip Guston.

Here's a link to the online Santa Monica Patch which also identifies stolen paintings by Frank Stella and Cy Twombly. 

According to a September 19 press release issued by the Santa Monica Police Department:
On September 14, 2012, officers responded to a residence located in the 500 block of 12th Street on the report of a residential burglary that had occurred sometime between September 12th at 3 p.m. and September 14th at 8 p.m. 
"Cathedral Tours" by Guy Rose, 1916
The victim had just returned home from a trip and discovered that his residence had been burglarized.  Numerous high-end paintings and two wooden box art pieces had been stolen from various rooms throughout the home.  Also stolen was the victim's 2010 red Porsche Carrera 4S, which was parked in the garage, several expensive watches, wine and a small amount of U. S. currency. The estimated loss at this time is believed to be in excess of 10 million dollars.  Preliminarily, the the estimated loss is between 20 and 39 million dollars.
Here's a link to the images of the items reported stolen; Sergeant Richard Lewis is the contact person for the police department (richard.lewis@smgov.net).  Although the LA Times (in the above referenced article) names stolen art work as by Jasper Johns, Piet Mondrian and Richard Diebenkorn, the Santa Monica Police department does not identify the artwork by title or artist.  A search through the FBI's National Stolen Art File Search did not show any stolen paintings by either of the three artists.

Here's a link to a 12-minute video discussion between the Los Angeles Times business section journalist and former FBI agent Robert K. Whittman (.  Business reporter Stuart Pfeiffer asks Whittman if it is more likely that the only 'buyers' the art thieves will find for the stolen fine art are undercover law enforcement.

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