Cherchez La Femme [Qui Pisse]

Stolen art aficionados, please don't let the reports of a giant $60 million art theft in Pebble Beach distract us from Our Important Task of Finding The Warhols, because it is a big gay hoax. I'll bet you a Warhol wanted poster.


Every thing about the Pebble Beach heist is fishy or inconsistent or hilariously a lie. Let's start out with the collectors themselves, A. Benjamin Amadio, 31 and Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, 62, who present themselves as business partners. Business partners who lived together, retired from Boston together, and were renting the $5 million house with no alarm system while either finishing construction on their new place or shopping around for a place to build. They first went into business together 10 years ago, when Amadio, then 21, was either an art gallerist or a venture capitalist in Ohio.


A. Benjamin is better known to Google as Angelo Amadio, and as 40 commenters at the Boston Herald--but no reporter anywhere so far--were able to figure out, he is the subject of numerous ripoff complaints for selling undocumented puppies as AKC-registered, but then never delivering the paperwork.


But what about the art? From the Boston Globe:

Amadio said that only three or four people in the world knew the two owned some of the pieces and that the thieves took only authenticated paintings, though the collection included some impeccable reproductions that only a skilled eye would be able to distinguish from the original.

"When they hit us, they knew exactly what they were looking for,'' he said.

"They knew exactly where they were and the difference between some of the authentic pieces and some of the reproductions.''

Among those "authenticated paintings" were irreplaceable works by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Miro, Matisse, Renoir, Jackson Pollock, and G.H. Rothe.

Ignore for a moment that G.H. Rothe is a gigantic print mill, cranking out tens of thousands of pastel posters of taut ballet dancers and running horses--both of which were prominent subjects in the Amadio-Kennaugh "theft" and any of which could be easily replaced for a couple hundred impulsively spent bucks on your next Carnival Cruise.

As for the "real" artists' paintings, the Rembrandts are clearly etchings. One, Femme qui pisse, or Woman making water, is either the version offered for sale in this 2005 CG Boerner catalogue [PDF, image above] or the shabbier one they mention which was sold at auction. It's hard to tell from Amadio's blurry color copy documentation of this extremely rare and priceless treasure. And the Miros are clearly prints, too. [The one on the left is reproduced pointing down the Herald, and up in KSBW's story.]


The biggest tell, though, is the Pollock, the only painting mentioned which could justify the $27 million, $60 million, or $80 million values Amadio has claimed. It is 4x7 feet. There is no published image of it. They supposedly bought it in 2001. It has supposedly never been exhibited or on the market publicly. The only thing that can be said with certainty about this purported Pollock is that it is not the #$&% Jackson Pollock bought by trucker Teri Horton in 1992 for $5, which was the subject of the 2006 joke documentary, Who the #$&% Is Jackson Pollock? As you can see from the movie poster, that #(*$% Pollock is more than four feet tall:


Also, the insurance talk doesn't make sense [it costs $30 million to insure a collection supposedly appraised by the insurance company for $27 million?]; the local law enforcement discrepancies; the lack of FBI Art Theft Division involvement; the sudden appearance of a ransom note/death threat? It's all too much to believe with a straight [sic] face. And yet it gets reported far and wide by newspaper and TV sources as unquestioned fact.

I give it less than a week before the whole Pebble Beach caper implodes in a cloud of boytoy blackmail gone awry. [c-monster]

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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first published: October 2, 2009.

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