Art Gallery Owner Convicted of Theft and Fraud

July 9, 2008

Los Angeles: Los Angeles police arrested a 68-year-old Los Angeles woman for the theft of artworks valued at more than $295,000 and are looking for victims to come forward and claim their property.

Kajorn Lekhakul Howard – the former owner of Images of East and West which was an art gallery located at 12627 West Washington Boulevard in Venice – was arrested in February 2008. The gallery specialized in Asian art and Howard posed as a legitimate dealer and engaged in a persistent pattern of deceit, embezzlement, and fraud. She lured people into entrusting her with their art and money, detectives said.

In September 2002, Howard left Los Angeles, taking with her art property, from more than 45 artists and customers.

On February 19, 2008, Howard was arrested during a routine traffic stop in the town of Seagoville, Texas. Both Howard and her common-law spouse Louis Bell were living in Seagoville after fleeing California. Shortly after, Bell was arrested and both were extradited back to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office filed multiple counts of grand theft and conspiracy and a warrant was issued for Howard’s and Bell’s arrest.

Art theft detectives recovered over 290 stolen items from storage locations in the Dallas area. The detectives transported the art back to Los Angeles and are asking for victims to come forward and claim their property.

On June 16, 2008, Howard pled guilty and was sentenced to the Los Angeles County Jail. The terms of the sentence also included probation and restitution.

A photo of the suspect is available through Media Relations Section. Please contact Art Theft Detail Detective Donald Hrycyk at 213-485-2524 to view a website link of the victim’s stolen art property.

Anyone who has knowledge of this incident is asked to call the Art Theft Detail Detectives Hrycyk or Stephanie Lazarus at 213-485-2524. After hours, calls may be directed to the 24-hour toll free number at 1-877-LAWFULL.