Thief replaced nine Warhol prints with fakes: Los Angeles police

Thu Sep 10, 2015 5:41pm EDT
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By Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Nine original Andy Warhol prints were quietly stolen from a Los Angeles movie business and replaced with fakes in an art heist that went undetected for years, police and court documents showed on Thursday.

The silk screen prints worth an estimated $350,000 are from the artist's 1983 series "Endangered Species" and his 1980 "Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century," according to a police report submitted to Los Angeles Superior Court as part of a search warrant affidavit.

The theft was first reported earlier this week by celebrity website TMZ.

Los Angeles police detective Don Hrycyk of the city's art theft detail declined to comment, saying the case was under investigation.

In the affidavit, police said the theft of the prints from the premises of movie company Moviola was so seamless it was only discovered after one of the pieces was taken to be reframed. Staff at the framing firm noticed that the print was fuzzy and lacked a print number and signature.

A special tool was used to remove the frames in which the prints were hung at Moviola, because otherwise the walls would have been left damaged, according to the affidavit.

It appears whoever stole the prints replaced them with large color copies, Los Angeles police detective Brent Johnson wrote in the affidavit.

"Bald Eagle," one of the pilfered works, was sold by auction house Bonhams on Oct. 25, 2011, according to the affidavit.   Continued...

Gallery employee Maddy Adeane poses with Andy Warhol's "Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century" (1980)  at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London June 19, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor