February 14, 2015

Raul Espinoza sentenced to more than four years in state prison for receiving art stolen from Encino home in 2008

Raul Espinoza
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

Brian Melley reported in the Associated Press Feb. 13 ("Man who tried to sell stolen Encino art gets 4 years in state prison") that Raul Espinoza was 'sentenced Friday to more than four years in state prison' when he 'pleaded no contest to one count of receiving property stolen in 2008 from the Encino home of Susan and Anton Roland:
He [Espinoza] was asking $700,000 for works he said were worth $5 million, though the paintings have since been valued for as much as $23 million, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles district attorney.
Melley/AP wrote that Espinoza's restitution hearing is scheduled for March 25.

(CNN also identified the owners of the art collection here).

Veronica Rocha for The Los Angeles Times reported that Espinoza's sentence was "four years and four months".

In May 2012, Mash Leo for The Jewish Daily reported that Susan and Anton Roland donated 15 works of art (including a Francis Bacon triptych worth $75 million) to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art:
This collection was accumulated over a lifetime by Susan Roland and her husband, the late Anton Roland. A teary-eyed George Roland paid tribute to his parents’ passion for art collecting: “Father was born in Carpathia [Czechoslovakia]. Mother was born in Hungary. They married in Budapest. In 1946 they moved to Paris and dreamt of owning paintings…. In 1949 they bought a Chagall in Israel [and] kept on buying paintings all over Europe. When [Dad] bought the Francis Bacon painting, his wife remarked that it was immoral to pay so much money [for it]. He pacified her by saying that it would eventually go to the Tel Aviv Museum…. It was their greatest wish to have a collection and to donate it after our passing, to share it with the Israeli people.’”

A catalogue on the donation from the Rolands to the Israeli art gallery can be purchased on Amazon.

An online article in "15 Minutes Magazine" quoted George Roland on his parents:
"My parents were opposites," George said. His mother came from Hungary and father from the Carpathians. Dad studied in a yeshiva in Prague when the war broke out.
He found his future wife on the street wearing a Jewish star. "Why are you wearing that?"
"They told me to."
"Just because they told you to do it doesn’t mean you do it."

He ripped the star off her coat and took her to the underground where he was working as a forger for the resistance against the Nazis. They stayed together ever since.
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