Art Theft

Colombian Art Recovery

In Colombia, Luis Magin made a name for himself as an artist. In 1987, he came to the United States, hopeful to establish himself here as well. He had assembled 25 of his best paintings spanning three decades for an exhibition in downtown Los Angeles. After the exhibition, the art was loaded into a van for transportation. However, before the art could be moved, the van was broken into, ransacked, and looted of all of Magin’s art.

After the theft, Magin fell into a terrible depression and stopped painting for many years. The theft was financially devastating. The art was not insured. He moved away and lost interest in pursuing fame or fortune. He rarely came out of his home and lost touch with other people except for his family. Health problems compounded the loss and Magin eventually gave up hope of seeing any of his creations again.

There were no witnesses to the crime and few leads in the case. The Art Theft Detail sent out crime alerts to the art community and included information about the theft on their website.

Two years after the crime, a man named Andreas attended a swap meet at the Rose Bowl. He was attracted to three paintings sold by a man who claimed he purchased them in an estate sale. Although Andreas didn’t know who the artist was, he bought the paintings for a nominal sum and displayed the art in the living room of his home. There they remained for four years while Andreas tried to research the art. He eventually learned the artist was Luis Magin and located a gallery that had exhibited his art in the past.

Using an internet search engine, Andreas came upon the LAPD website listing stolen art and learned that Magin had been the victim of a theft. Andreas contacted the Art Theft Detail and learned that the three paintings he purchased was part of the loot taken in the theft. Although Andreas had become attached to the paintings, he wanted the artist to be reunited with his art.

Detectives had to search for Magin who had since moved. Upon learning of the recovery, Magin’s family considered it a miracle. The artist’s wife of 29 years said the effect on her husband was dramatic. “It gave him hope and faith.” Magin said, “finding those paintings gave me life.”

After the recovery, Magin resumed painting.

Detectives are still searching for the remaining artworks.