What is it with the Warhols in LA that makes them so hard to keep on the walls? TMZ reports [!] that nine Warhol prints were reported stolen from the offices of a Los Angeles-area film editing company, and were replaced with fakes.
The fakes were discovered “a few months ago” when “a member of the family” sent the prints to be reframed, and were reported to the police in May. Six of the prints are ed. 73/200 from Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century (1980) and three are ed. 96/150 from the ten-part Endangered Species series (1983). According to TMZ, the prints were all purchased in the 1980s, but it is not clear whether the company/family had the entire sets.
One of the Endangered Species prints, Bald Eagle, was sold at Bonham’s in San Francisco in October 2011 for $37,500, and police have obtained the records relating to that sale.
Which should make for quick work. Just think for a second what is involved in creating [passable poster-sized Warhols, and then replacing them in the frames. [Or can you just buy them now?] This was a rogue framer, a shady dealer, or a determined and crafty insider.
Which, funny I should mention that. TMZ namechecks the other big LA Warhol Caper, the 2009 theft of an entire set of Athletes paintings (1977) from the home of the esteemed collector who commissioned them, Richard Weisman. But they don’t say what happened to them.
Study for Find The Warhols, 2009
The Weisman Warhols were the subject of my Find The Warhols Project, one of the earliest Kickstarters, which was intended to plaster the backrooms of the art world with giant, glossy copies of the LAPD’s awesome-as-hell $1 Million Reward poster. That Kickstarter failed right around the time Weisman withdrew his $25 million insurance claim, and the insurance company canceled the reward. In 2010 an art theft guru said the Weisman Warhols had not, in fact been stolen, but were the victims of “a domestic kidnapping!” but declined to provide any details.
They were still listed as stolen, though, when the great Zurich designer Lex Treub asked to appropriate the Weisman Warhols poster for an exhibition at the House of Switzerland during the London 2012 Olympics.
Anyway, the LAPD now lists all the Weisman Athletes paintings as RECOVERED! Which is great! What a relief! Or a fraught domestic drama we are not privy to! Maybe it’s best to just wish the Weismans well and offer them some privacy as they continue to work things out; because the portrait of Weisman himself is still reported as missing.
If you have any leads on any of the above, give the LAPD Art Theft detail a call.
Andy Warhol Theft | Someone Switched the Jews!!! [tmz]
LAPD Art Theft detail [lapdonline.org]
Previously, very much related: Have You Seen Me? The Find The Warhols Project
Greatest Hits: Highlights from the LAPD Art Theft detail’s wanted gallery
update: I got my Jews straightened out in that image. Sarah, not Sandra, obv.