"Quick Thinking Auction Staff Recovers Picasso"
Los Angeles – On Thursday, May 3, 2001,a man who identified himself as "Tony" entered an Art Auction Gallery in Beverly Hills, where he spoke to an Art Specialist, in charge of contemporary art. "Tony" stated he owned a Picasso, which he wanted to sell. He claimed he did not bring it with him but described it in detail to the Specialist, who determined that "Tony" knew nothing about Picasso and that his story was fishy. The Specialist told ‘Tony" that she was going to research the artwork in the rear office, but checked a stolen art directory instead. The Specialist learned that the 1937 ink on paper drawing entitled Faune was listed on LAPD’s website as stolen. It is valued at $100,000. The Specialist notified the Art Auction Gallery Security Manager who contacted LAPD’s Art Theft Detail. Detectives advised the Art Specialist and staff to stall the suspect until officers could arrive. The Detectives also asked the Art Specialist if she could determine where the suspect’s car was parked in case the artwork was hidden there or the suspect decided to flee.
While the Art Auction Gallery personnel were planning strategy, the suspect almost got away. When the General Manager, went to the reception area to talk to the suspect, she learned he had left the building and had entered a BMW parked at the curb. When she went outside, she noticed the suspect had the engine running and was pulling away. The General Manager hurried to the driver and talked him back into the building. The General Manager and the Art Specialist continued talking to "Tony" gaining his trust. He finally revealed that he had the Picasso in his car. He brought the artwork, which was wrapped in a shirt, into the lobby. Now that the Art Auction Gallery knew the location of the artwork and the suspect’s car, the Beverly Hills Police Department was called in to detain the suspect.
When the Los Angeles Police Department’s Art Theft Detail arrived, they recognized "Tony" as Sammie Archer III, 35, who had been a suspect in the original burglary during which over $200,000 in art was stolen from the estate of a movie producer. Archer had been the victim’s chauffeur.
Detectives are still searching for an $80,000 Tiffany lamp, several Picasso plates, as well as two distinctive bronze sculptures taken in the burglary.
On May 7, 2001, Deputy District Attorney Allan Tyson filed (1) count each of first-degree burglary, grand theft, embezzlement, and receiving stolen property. Bail was set at $480,000.
Anyone having information about the location of this property can contact the Art Theft Detail at 213-485-2524. This and other stolen art can be viewed by clicking here Art Theft.