“In a city known more for carjackings than art heists, the FBI is trying to crack a Corktown caper that cost a collector nearly two dozen pieces of valuable art.
The FBI says that sometime between April 27-29, an Andy Warhol silk screen used to produce “Flowers” and 18 works by other artists were stolen from a business in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. Authorities would not identify the victim or the business, but said the works were not on display — or locked up. They pegged the value of the collection at more than $1 million, though one expert said it may be worth considerably less.
FBI spokesman Simon Shaykhet said Tuesday that a reward of $5,000 is being offered for information on the hijacked collection, which includes drawings, prints and paintings by artists such as Larry Rivers, Francesco Clemente, Philip Taaffe, Peter Schuyff and Joseph Beuys.
See more of the stolen items on the FBI site
“Whoever is involved may have planned to or may have already transported (the art) outside state lines or possibly outside the country,” Shaykhet said. “Given the nature of this crime and the value of the artwork stolen, we’re alerting anyone in the art industry, as well as local pawn shops and those who shop online, that thieves could use any of those avenues to try and sell the stolen goods.”
An art dealer told the Free Press on Tuesday that the Warhol silk screen that’s missing is not actually a piece of art but a studio tool worth no more than $2,000-$3,000.
“Nobody collects these,” said Richard Polsky, a dealer and author based in the San Francisco Bay area, who has written two books about Warhol. “The only place it would have value would be to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to display alongside a ‘Flowers’ or to a crook who would want to do something fraudulent.
“It’s memorabilia,” Polsky said. “Somebody might buy it for a couple grand to say they had it and it was cool.”
Polsky reviewed the names of about a dozen of the works the FBI said were stolen and estimated their market value at around $200,000.
“I hate to sound cavalier,” he said, “but this is a pretty minor collection.”
Given the relatively low profile of the stolen works, Polsky said the thieves might get off scot-free if they wait a couple of years before trying to sell the goods and avoid major auction houses.
“You could dump this stuff in a regional auction house, and you might get away with it,” he said.
Shaykhet said the artwork is listed on the National Stolen Art database and can be viewed on the FBI’s website, www.fbi.gov.
Anyone with information on the theft is asked to contact their nearest FBI field office. The Detroit office can be reached 24 hours a day at 313-965-2323.”
From the Detroit Free Press
Image above: A silk screen used to produce Andy Warhol’s “Flowers” is among items stolen from a business in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood. / FBI via Associated Press