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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Stolen Art Watch, To Live & Die In L.A. Encino Art Heist Cracked Courtesy Of "The Donald" Hrycyk That Is !!



Paintings in $10-million Encino heist recovered


Nine of 12 paintings stolen from a Los Angeles home in 2008 are recovered by authorities
Paintings worth $10 million were quietly taken from the home of an elderly Los Angeles couple
For six years, the mystery surrounding one of the largest art heists in Los Angeles history baffled police. Then, a shadowy figure by the name of "Darko" surfaced in Europe.
Darko held himself out as a fixer for someone in California wanting to peddle the paintings. The items, police knew, had been stolen from an Encino home in summer 2008. The collection included works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera and was worth an estimated $10 million.
The discovery led undercover FBI agents to pretend to be interested in buying the art. They arranged for a meeting at a Brentwood hotel.

There appeared Raul Espinoza, who was arrested after he tried to sell the agents the artworks, according to a search warrant filed in court this month. Authorities recovered nine of the 12 paintings, the warrant said.
The return of the stolen works — no small feat in the world of art theft, where recovery rates are low — marks a significant victory for investigators. The burglary had been swift, and there were few clues.


At the home where the dozen works were part of a multimillion-dollar art collection owned by an elderly couple, caretakers normally shuffled through on a round-the-clock basis.
The couple, one of whom was 88 at the time of the theft, had gained their wealth through real estate investments.
On the morning of Aug. 23, 2008, the caretaker on duty had left for what she said was a 49-minute period to buy groceries at Gelson's.
The home was equipped with a security system, but the couple's children told investigators that the alarm wasn't functioning. Every entryway was locked except for the kitchen door on the side of the home.
When the caretaker returned just after noon, the paintings that had hung on the hallway and living room walls were gone, frames and all.
The couple, inside their bedrooms, hadn't heard the thief or thieves. And police weren't called to the home until the following morning, according to a police report.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.

Several works of art and paintings worth millions of dollars were left behind.
What led investigators to Darko is unclear. Reached Wednesday, Det. Donald Hrycyk of the Los Angeles Police Department's art theft detail declined to say whether anyone else had been arrested or if the remaining artworks had been found.
But in the search warrant, filed Dec. 5, Hrycyk said he suspected "the original burglary could not have been accomplished without the assistance of inside help from one of the employees who worked for the victims at the time of the crime."
Hrycyk wrote that he believed Espinoza, who also goes by the alias Jorge Lara, knew the insider.
During the Oct. 23 meeting in the hotel, Hrycyk watched and listened to the negotiation between Espinoza and undercover agents through a hidden camera in the hotel room, he wrote in the warrant.
The agents were offering $700,000 for nine pieces. Espinoza tried to peddle three additional artworks to the agents, including one painting that matched the description of an Endre Szasz piece taken from the Encino home, the search warrant said. Espinoza used "his cellphone to call confederates to signal them during the operation," Hrycyk wrote in the document.
Espinoza, 45, was arrested at the Luxe Sunset Boulevard Hotel, according to arrest records. He has been charged with one count of receiving stolen property. He pleaded not guilty at an Oct. 27 arraignment and remains jailed at the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic. His bail is $5 million.
Espinoza's relationship to Darko is unclear, authorities said.
This month, investigators sought the warrant to search Espinoza's cellphone, believing that photos and electronic communications could bring the long-running investigation closer to an end.
matt.hamilton@latimes.com
Twitter: @MattHjourno

Major L.A. art heist: Recovered art worth over $12 million, FBI says

Art worth more than $12 million was recovered in one of the biggest art heists in Los Angeles history, the FBI said Friday.
The works were stolen in 2008 from an Encino couple, who did not live to see the recovery of the works. The husband died within four months of the crime, authorities said, and his wife died earlier this year.

A dozen paintings were stolen from the elderly couple's multimillion-dollar collection. The works were taken from the couple's home in broad daylight while they were in their bedrooms nearby.
Among the stolen works were Emil Nolde's "Figur mit Hund" (Figure With Dog), 1912; Lyonel Feininger's "Fin de Seance," 1910; Chaim Soutine's "La Vieille Dame au Chien" (Old Woman With Dog), 1919; Soutine's "La Femme en Rouge" (Woman in Red), 1926; Kees van Dongen's "Alicia Alanova," 1933; and Hans Hofmann's Untitled (known as "Blue Bottle"), 1947.
See more on the news conference below.
In a news conference Friday, agents said there are three pieces yet to be recovered. One of them is believed to be by Hungarian artist Endre Szasz. The FBI said the value of the artwork ranks as the greatest recovered in recent history.
A reward of $25,000 was offered for any more information regarding the rest of the stolen art.

Hundreds of thousands of pounds of valuables stolen from Christie's HQ in raid


Antiques and jewellery believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds have been stolen from one of the world’s top auction houses.
Valuable works of art, including rare pieces by Faberge - the court jewellers of Imperial Russia - were taken from Christie’s headquarters in Piccadilly.
Police are probing the theft of the ‘high-value items’ two weeks ago, but there have been no arrests and none of the stolen items have been recovered.
A twice-yearly auction of Russian art at Christie’s last month made £20 million and saw many valuable items by Faberge go under the hammer, including a crystal vase that fetched £314,500.
The stolen items were taken from the auction house in King Street on the night of Sunday December 7.
Staff alerted the police after the burglary was discovered the following morning.
Scotland Yard’s elite art and antiques unit informed the British Antique Dealers’ Association.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “We can confirm that officers from Westminster are currently investigating a burglary at business premises which is believed to have occurred between 6pm on Sunday December 7th and 8am on Monday December 8th.
“A number of high value items were taken. Inquiries are continuing. There have been no arrests.”
A Christie’s spokeswoman said: “Christie’s is helping the Metropolitan Police to investigate a recent, isolated incident at its London offices.”

Nine paintings worth $10 million that were stolen in one of the 'largest art heists in Los Angeles history' are recovered as the thief tried to sell them

  • The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the works to undercover FBI agents
  • The stolen paintings included works by Hans Hofmann, Chaim Soutine, Arshile Gorky, Emil Nolde, Lyonel Feininger and Kess van Dongen
  • The artwork, including pieces by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera, is worth millions and was taken while the couple was at home
  • Both art experts and authorities described the art theft as one of the largest in Los Angeles history 
Authorities have recovered $10 million worth of art — including paintings by Chagall and Diego Rivera — that were stolen in one of Los Angeles' largest art heists.
The FBI and Los Angeles Art Cop Donald Hrycyk recovered nine pieces of art at a West LA hotel in October, and a man was arrested, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The works, including Chagall's 'Les Paysans' and Diego Rivera's 'Mexican Peasant,' were among a dozen swiped from the Encino home of a wealthy real estate investor on the morning of Aug. 24, 2008, by a crook or crooks who entered through the unlocked kitchen door, police said.
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera
Recovered art: Federal agents and police in Los Angeles have recovered nine paintings worth millions of dollars that were stolen from the home of an elderly couple six years ago, including works by Marc Chagall and Diego Rivera.

Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
Found: The paintings were recovered in an FBI sting operation in which a suspect identified as Paul Espinoza, 45, was arrested as he tried to sell the stolen artwork to undercover agents
The elderly residents were in their bedrooms and heard nothing, police said.
The case grew cold until this September, when Detective Donald Hrycyk of the LAPD's art theft detail received a tip that a man in Europe known as 'Darko' was seeking buyers for the stolen art, the Times said.
Darko 'indicated that he was merely a middleman for an unknown person in possession of the art in California,' Hrycyk wrote in a search warrant.
During the ensuing undercover operation, Raul Espinoza, 45, was contacted at the hotel, where he tried to sell the estimated $10 million worth of paintings for $700,000 cash, prosecutors contend.
Three stolen paintings remain missing.
Espinoza pleaded not guilty in October to receiving stolen property and remains jailed on $5 million bail.
Messages seeking comment were left for his public defender, Aparna Voleti, on Wednesday.
The Times said Hrycyk sought permission this month to search Espinoza's cellphone for possible photos or communications that could reveal the identities of the thieves involved in the original burglary.
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history
Not over: The FBI investigation of the art theft is continuing and additional suspects are being sought. Authorities are also are looking for three additional paintings stolen from the couple's home in the Encino neighborhood of Los Angeles in August 2008 in a daylight art heist that ranks among the biggest in the city's history

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