Showing posts with label California. Show all posts
Showing posts with label California. Show all posts

February 19, 2014

"Riverside County Art Dealer Arrested in Federal Cyberstalking Case" (U.S. Attorney's Office Press Release Feb. 12); FBI Art Crime Team Investigating

FROM:  Thom Mrozek
Public Affairs Officer
United States Attorney's Office
Central District of California (Los Angeles) 

Issued on Wednesday, February 12 at 8:30 a.m. PST. EDS: a copy of the criminal complaint is attached. 
LOS ANGELES – The owner of a Temecula art gallery who allegedly stalked, harassed and attempted to extort several art world professionals was arrested today on federal cyberstalking charges. 
Jason White, 43, of Temecula, was arrested this morning without incident by special agents with the FBI. White’s arrest comes after federal prosecutors yesterday filed a criminal complaint that charges White with stalking, a crime that carries a potential penalty of five years in federal prison. White is expected to make his initial appearance this afternoon in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles. 
According to the complaint, White engaged in a stalking and extortion scheme that targeted several art world professionals with whom he had had business relationships. When those business relationships ended, White posted derogatory information about his former associates on websites he had created, and then used threatening emails to demand hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for taking the websites down. According to the complaint, White repeatedly made extortionate demands through harassing text messages and emails, and when his demands were not met, he threatened violence.
In one part of the scheme, White targeted his former employer, an art publisher, as well as his supervisor at the art publisher’s company. After creating derogatory websites in the art publisher’s name, White allegedly sent threatening text messages to the art publisher, the publisher’s son, and his former supervisor. According to the complaint, in a text message to his former supervisor, he threatened to find her family and make her pay with “fear, anguish, and pain.” On several occasions, according to the complaint, White obtained pictures of her child and sent pictures of the child to the victim with comments such as “it will be very unfortunate if something was to happen to him.” During this time, according to the complaint, White continued to demand payment in exchange for taking down the websites he had created, and made it known to these victims that their business reputation would be ruined and that his websites would forever show up anytime anyone searched for their name on the internet. 
Late last month, White allegedly went to the Facebook page of a well-known artist represented by the art publisher and posted a picture of himself, along with a statement that he was focusing on the artist’s wife and child. White allegedly wrote that he would be waiting in the bushes to “knee cap a child.” Through the Facebook message, White told the artist, “your children are my end game.” 

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in court. 
The case against White is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Art Crime Team.

CONTACT:    Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Levitt
                        Cyber and Intellectual Property Crimes Section
                        (213) 894-2579 
Release No. 14-022

October 2, 2012

California State Mining and Mineral Museum Closed for Repairs After Robbery; Inventory to Determine Value of Theft

Tourists often overlook Mariposa on their way to Yosemite Valley, but last week the small historic town in Northern California created headlines last week when thieves reportedly stole millions of dollars of gold from the California State Mining and Mineral Museum located on the Mariposa County Fairgrounds.

The museum, operated by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, issued a press release October 1 informing the public that the institution celebrating the 19th century Gold Rush will be closed "for repairs following the robbery" and that an inventory would determine the number and value of the items stolen.
In the robbery, a number of display cases, doors and other items were damaged by the approximately two suspects who entered the museum and stole an undetermined amount of precious minerals.  It is the goal of State Parks to make the repairs quickly in order to reopen the museum to the public as soon as possible. 
There were two State Parks' employees at the museum at the time of the robbery.  Neither was injured and while both remain shaken from the experience, both report they are doing fine. 
An inventory of the stolen items will be getting underway this week.  Until it is completed, State Parks will not have a listing of what was taken or the dollar amount of the items.
Jim Ballinger, Editor of the Mariposa (Weekly) Gazette, reported September 27 that the museum had been robbed by 4 o'clock Friday afternoon.  According to witnesses cited by Ballinger, two men wearing black clothing and night vision goggles and armed with pick-axes 'herded park rangers to one  area of the museum and headed into the vault' but the alarm sounded, the vault door began to close and the men were denied entry.  Law enforcement arrived 'within minutes' but the suspects escaped.

ABC News' reported that evening (here's a link to the video) and its source for the theft of millions of dollars was from a concerned board member of the museum, although the reporter, Rick Montanez, noted that the museum's treasure, the Fricot "Nugget" had not been stolen.  The Fricot "Nugget" is a 13.8 crystallized gold specimen found in the American River in 1864.

Friday night, almost six hours after the theft, Jacob Rayburn for The Fresno Bee also quoted a California State Parks spokesman that an estimated $2 million worth of gold nuggets and precious gems had been stolen.

Diana Marcum for The Los Angeles Times reported the day after the theft that up to $2 million in gold and gems may have been taken from the museum, but also noted that the Fricot Nugget was still in its iron safe in a vaulted room.  Ms. Marcum also reports that until recently the collection had been planned for storage until it was discovered that the Parks Department had $54 million it had not reported to budget officials.

The collection of more than 13,000 objects relating to the mining of gold and rare minerals in California began in 1880 and moved from San Francisco to Mariposa in 1983.  The museum became a state park in 1999.

The lead agency for this investigation is the Central Division Investigative Services Unit (ISU) of the California Highway Patrol.

September 28, 2012

Santa Monica Police Department Works with Pasadena Police Department and other agencies to recover art stolen from Jeffrey Gundlach's collection

Art work by Franz Kline stolen and recovered
by Catherine Schofield Sezgin, 
 ARCA Blog Editor-in-Chief

This evening Richard Lewis, Sergeant, with the Office of the Chief of Police for the Santa Monica Police Department sent a copy of the press release regarding the arrests and recovery of the art to the ARCA blog.

SMPD's Sergeant Lewis also responded to two questions via email: did the publication of the photos of the artwork assist in the recovery of the art? Did the owner's offer of a reward assist in the recovery of the art?
The photos were absolutely a help to the investigation.  As for the reward that was offered by the victim, that may have played a role, but at this stage in the investigation, I cannot speak to that.
Here's the press release that shows the art traveled from the Westside of Los Angeles to San Gabriel Valley:
On September 26, 2012, investigators from the Santa Monica Police Department were contacted by members of the Pasadena Police Department who received a tip concerning where the stolen art from Santa Monica was being held. Based on the information received, Santa Monica’s investigators, with the assistance of the Pasadena Police Department, responded to Al & Ed’s Autosound located at 30 S. Rosemead Boulevard in Pasadena to serve a search warrant. 
During the subsequent search, most of the paintings were recovered and one suspect was arrested for possessing stolen property. He was identified as 45 year old Jay Jeffrey Nieto of Canyon Country, the manager of the Pasadena Al & Ed’s. 
As the investigation continued, additional information was developed that led Santa Monica investigators to a residence in the City of San Gabriel. There the investigators contacted and later arrested 40 year old Wilmer Bolosan Cadiz for possessing stolen property; he was in possession of four of the stolen paintings. 
The last painting was recovered as investigators learned it had been transported to a residence in Glendale. The subject in possession of this painting has been interviewed and is cooperating with investigators. 
Santa Monica Police Investigators are continuing to follow up on leads regarding other possible suspects in the burglary and the location of the remaining stolen property. Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective David Haro at (310) 458-8432 or Sergeant Henry Ramirez at (310) 458-8453 or the Santa Monica Police Department (24 hours) at (310) 458-8495. 
Although the investigation continues, cooperation from the following agencies has made the recovery of this valuable art collection possible. 
Pasadena Police Department 
Los Angeles Police Department
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Department of Justice
Interpol
If you wish to remain anonymous, you can call We-Tip at 1-800-78-CRIME (1-800-78-27643), or submit the tip online at www.wetip.com you will remain completely anonymous and may be eligible for a reward, up to $1,000.00 if your information leads to an arrest and conviction, or anonymous tipsters can contact Crime Stoppers by either calling (800) 222-TIPS (8477) or by visiting their website at www.lacrimestoppers.org. To text an anonymous tip to crime stoppers; please view their webpage for detailed instructions. If the information leads to an arrest, the tipster is eligible to receive a reward up to $1,000.00.

LA Times: 'Jeffrey Gundlach's stolen art collection is recovered'

The Los Angeles Times sent out a 'breaking news' email at 5:59 p.m. on September 27:
Recovered art work by Philip Guston (1950)
Star bond trader Jeffrey Gundlach said his $10-million collection of art, which was stolen this month, has been recovered safely. 
Two suspects have been arrested by Santa Monica police, he said.  Gundlach had offered a near-record $1.7-million reward for the collection's safe return. 
Joe Bel Bruno for the LA Times reports that Gunlach said that 'at least one of the paintings [the Mondrian] was in the midst of being sold" and that his Porsche is still missing. 

Sam Ro for Business Insider reports that Gundlach released a statement thanking Detective David Haro and the Santa Monica Police Department for "their skillful, tireless and respectful attention to apprehending the criminals and recovering all of the artwork stolen."

September 26, 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.