Andy Warhol art worth millions stolen in L.A.

Fri Sep 11, 2009 10:59pm EDT
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By Dan Whitcomb

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A collection of Andy Warhol paintings valued in the millions of dollars has been stolen from the home of a Los Angeles businessman, police said on Friday.

The stolen works included 10 well-known paintings produced by Warhol in the late 1970s depicting famous athletes.

Among them were boxing great Muhammad Ali, tennis champion Chris Evert, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill and former football star turned "Trial of the Century" defendant O.J. Simpson.

The paintings were commissioned by businessman and art collector Richard Weisman and were stolen from his West Los Angeles home, along with a Warhol portrait of Weisman, a Los Angeles Police spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman said the silk-screen works, which each measure 40 inches square, had been hanging on Weisman's dining room walls and that a housekeeper who noticed them missing on September 3 notified police.

Weisman was not home at the time of the burglary and there was no sign of forced entry at the home, police said. Nothing else was taken by the thieves, who left behind several other Warhol paintings.

A $1 million reward has been offered by an anonymous donor for the return of the stolen art.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Weisman, who was friends with Warhol, sometimes lent out the collection, and it was shown in the spring at a benefit exhibit.

Warhol, a leading figure in the pop art movement, died in 1987.

(Editing by Peter Cooney)

<p>People are reflected on a portrait of U.S. artist Andy Warhol by Timm Rautert during the exhibit "Warhol on Warhol" at Madrid's Casa Encendida Cultural Centre in this November 23, 2007 file photo. Several original Warhols were stolen from the home of a Los Angeles collector, the Los Angeles Police Department said on September 11, 2009. REUTERS/Susana Vera/Files</p>