We hope that artists or anyone else who loves art and who have experienced the loss or theft of their artwork will learn more about it and successfully recover their work or be justly compensated.
Art theft in any form is a serious crime against the people and culture.
Art theft can take many forms but this blog entry is about the theft of a physical works of canvas artwork.
Besides the physical, another form of art theft is copyright infringement using reproductions or replications of intellectual property as direct copies or as appropriated and derivative works. ( future upcoming blog).
For your information and according to online sources:
The FBI's Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) program investigates theft of trade secrets, counterfeit products, and copyright and/or trademark infringement cases.
Intellectual property crime is committed when someone manufactures, sells or distributes counterfeit or pirated goods, such as patents, trademarks, industrial designs or literary and artistic works, for commercial gain.
We recently interviewed an American artist we will call "Artist" about the art theft (& recovery) of an Untitled Abstract canvas he was still working on before it was surreptitiously removed from his studio without his knowledge or consent. This relates his experience & perspective.
We will trace the painting on it's journey from birth to eventually being liberated by the artist from the people who attempted to keep it.
Catso: Have you ever had someone steal a piece of your artwork?
Artist: Yes it has happened more than several times in one form or another ever since I started circulating my art & no doubt happens to many other people too.
When something comes from a deep creative place and has soul then people will want to steal it because they in fact are missing something in their own souls.
It's for sure a low conscious level thing of someone operating on a very low frequency. It's just not a very smart thing to do and it can also cause emotional harm to the artist.
Catso: Tell us the details.
Artist: In around 2017-2018, someone absconded with a large Abstract canvas of mine that was on the wall of a temporary Pop Up Studio concept I was attempting to do in Dallas, Texas.
I briefly started the work in Los Angeles 2014 and then brought it to Dallas in 2015 on a visit there to work on it further with some other art. It was a part of my life for several years ( and is now back ).
I tend to work on many pieces at once and sometimes there are gaps of time between the process. Sometimes my work goes through many changes and this painting is no exception. So in 2017 it was moved to the attempted Pop Up.
After all, many great artists like Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso etc sometimes spent years on a painting and lived with them during the process.
Catso: So it turned up missing?
Artist: It was gone and I only had one not very good photo of it (shown above) but this was from right before I added the white lines & other paints to it. I was leaving & worked on it right before I left. Didn't do a new photo it before I left.
So I had no photo of what it actually currently looked like because I had returned to LA the morning after I worked on it. I couldn’t even show others what it looked like or file a theft report. I knew what it looked like of course but it's hard to describe painting. I also didn't really want to get the people in trouble but i wanted them to pay for it or give it back.
Catso: Tell us about it. Did you ever give up on recovering it ?
Artist: Hell no I did not give up on recovering it.
It took some time dealing with over a few years but I was going to keep searching & eventually locate it. My paintings, especially the large ones, are precious beings and lovely creations coming from the hand and heart of my soul. They all have a life of their own & project Transformative amazing energy. This is not a game.
They are like my children and if one is missing it hurts my soul very much.
They are a part of my life and then I might show it or someone buys it. They get their place. I knew or was hoping I was going to eventually get the painting back but I had to know where it was first, before it went underground.
Catso: What was the painting like?
Artist: It was a large colorful abstract work (around 6 feet tall x 11 feet wide un-stretched canvas) that went missing ( was stolen) from the attempted Dallas Pop Up.
It started out in Los Angeles with a teal aqua color and black outlined circular forms with abstract colored shapes then eventually ended up with the flowing white lines and movement so you can't really see the circles much anymore. Or at least overtly see them.
I say missing but eventually I found out that it was actually now hanging in the living room of a house in Dallas which I did not know the location of but I knew the person’s name and that they worked at an Architecture firm in some sort of capacity.
I knew if I made too much noise that it might get hidden away and I might never get it back. They could say I was harassing them or something if I just asked about it. If I raised a ruckus then it would get too hot for them and they might even destroy it as evidence rather than admit they had it.
Plus I know the owner of the Architecture firm and didn't want to involve them or cause perceived drama and I felt stupid dealing with such stupid people or something along those lines.
Not to mention I was 3 states away.
Catso: So you contacted them off and on but they never responded or got back to you.
Artist: No response but this seems like the playbook for people like that. A variation has happened before.
There was a large ( 6' x 6' ) canvas mixed media collage Cowboy/Snake painting I did get back years before this (1993-1994) from different people & they did the same thing. I did get it back after I found out they had it. It's this sort of thing where they ignore you, meanwhile this large painting of yours is hanging in their house that nobody paid for. This Cowboy/Snake painting i had actually donated for an auction to raise money for a charity & so there was a stipulation in the contract about it being returned to me if it was not sold. I am not sure it even made it to the event and auction because I didn't go. But somehow it ended up somewhere else so...
Catso: So these new people with the Untitled Abstract painting did the same thing and ignored your attempts to contact them?
Artist: I barely knew the people who had it in their house (met them once briefly) & the person wouldn’t respond at all about the painting of mine that was literally hanging in their living room. A large beautiful painting like that is not something you forget as it empowers the whole environment. I know for a fact that my art can transform a room because I've seen it with my own eyes. A place might be nice and look good but you add my art and you can't see the room without it anymore.
It projects an energy and soul that is palpable. Art.
They just completely ignored me when I contacted them on social media or another person involved said they didn’t know what I was talking about when I messaged them. Or they would act like I was bothering them and or try to flip the story.
I just wanted to discuss a fair price if they liked the work and was willing to accept some sort of payments or the return of the piece but got zero response.
I wasn't interested in anything else. If they liked the art and wanted it then I wanted them to have it as well. For a price which was never discussed and I had no idea about.
I even saw one photo on Instagram with the person’s child posing in front of it.
For real she was posting it on instagram. The whole painting wasn’t shown only a small section of it. I probably commented about it but can’t remember. They didn’t respond of course. They were being cagey enough to not show the whole painting and probably thought since it was a year or so that they were in the clear.
And another posting ( April 21 2019) with their dog in front of it but again they only showed part of the art and not the whole painting.
Again, all silence when I contacted them to ask about the artwork and zero response.
I could even tell from the limited view on Instagram that the perpetrators had mounted it but also shortened it considerably by many inches in the height and width. Such ignorance. Probably to save money when getting it stretched but they actually damaged it ( has since been repaired).
Catso: Did all this make you feel bad? Pissed off?
Artist: Sort of yes of course. They really thought they could just take a large painting like that and not pay for it. It was very disrespectful and demeaning to me as a human being and artist.
Through the course of several years of off and on efforts, I was trying to locate the painting while I lived 1,600 miles away in Los Angeles. It's a difficult and time consuming thing to do alone from a distance while also trying to work on new stuff & survive.
Plus the Covid times and that whole vaccine scam. LA had a disgusting response to it all and their policies actually killed more people. Closing the beaches and hiking trails? Total nightmare & ridiculous.
But one day in 2021 after the covid experience of having lots of time to think in the draconian lock downs we experienced out here in LA, I had enough, and so finally got their home address from someone helpful ( Thank you person ) & I then wrote a letter or somehow got it to them right away & gave the people a specific 1 week time frame ultimatum to either return the painting to a specific location in Dallas, I could have a courier pick it up at their house or they could face legal consequences for failure to do so.
Once I had their address I did start to file a stolen art report even though the theft happened 3-4 years ago but they gave me the number to the local neighborhood station in the area where it happened and then things were solved before it got that far.
In Jan 2022, when I finally got it from the place they dropped it off in 2021, I was very overjoyed to see this large abstract canvas again in person and absorb the energy. It was a big relief.
Catso: We are happy you got it back and persisted in this.
People committing Art theft of paintings, or appropriations, plagiarizing, making derivative works or such things for commercial or idealistic purposes is nothing new.
People steal what they perceive to be valuable and then don’t want to pay for it. In the case of an original piece of artwork, it becomes a different sort of theft.
The Theft That Made The 'MONA LISA' a Masterpiece
On Aug. 21, 1911, the then-little-known painting known as the Mona Lisa, was stolen from the wall of the Louvre Museum in Paris. --- And a legend was born.
Before its theft, the "Mona Lisa" was not widely known outside the art world. Leonardo da Vinci painted it in 1507, but it wasn't until the 1860s that critics began to hail it as a masterwork of Renaissance painting.
After the Louvre announced the theft, newspapers all over the world ran headlines about the missing masterpiece and this became an incredibly famous painting — literally overnight.
The hapless French intelligence had no clues and many wild theories abounded about the culprits who stole it. Innocent and surprised by the accusation, famous artist Pablo Picasso was also considered a suspect and was questioned.
2 years and 4 months later, the painting was recovered and the Italian who stole it arrested. He had left it with an Art Dealer for appraisal in hopes to sell it and the painting was quickly identified and recovered.
"He said later that he was trying to return it to Italy — that he was a patriot and it was stolen by Napoleon — and he was trying to return it to the land of his birth," according to writer and historian James Zug.
SInce the Mona Lisa was painted in Italy then carried to France by Leonardo where he died, we can sort of see the point of the patriotic art thief.
How did the greatest painting in the world end up owned by France ? It was painted in Italy over the course of many years the artist carried it with him. We previously write about the Mona Lisa in our blog about Mr. Brainwash here.
JACKSON POLLOCK painting found in garage could be worth $15 million.
Not really stolen but successfully recovered, in 2017, a lost Jackson Pollock painting was found in an Arizona garage and later authenticated as the real thing.
After digging through the garage the painting was located underneath some paper stuff and posters.
‘God, that looks like a Jackson Pollock,” appraiser Josh Levine told CNN.
The Pollock painting was later sold at auction for $15 million.
In other incredible recent Pollock news, on March 22, 2023, officials in the country of Bulgaria say they discovered a previously unknown painting by Jackson Pollock during an investigation into an international art trafficking operation. The painting could be worth as much as $54 million
We hope if you are an artist or collector that you never have art stolen but if it happens we hope you get it back.
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