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Owner of stolen Andy Warhol paintings waives insurance policy

The West L.A. art collector, who reportedly stood to recoup $25 million for the 11 pieces, told the Seattle Times that he doesn't want to go through the hassle of the insurer's investigation.

October 16, 2009|Joel Rubin

The owner of a multimillion-dollar collection of artwork stolen last month has unexpectedly waived the insurance policy he owns to protect the paintings, Los Angeles police detectives confirmed Thursday.

The art world was abuzz in early September with word that a series of original works by famed Pop Art icon Andy Warhol had been stolen from the walls of noted art collector Richard L. Weisman's Westside Los Angeles home.

In all, 11 brightly colored silk screen paintings were gone -- 10 are portraits of famous athletes and one is of Weisman, 69, who was friends with Warhol and commissioned the series in the late 1970s.

Each piece was estimated by some experts to be worth at least $1 million.

Dets. Donald Hrycyk and Mark Sommer, who make up the Los Angeles Police Department's art theft detail, had few leads to follow. There was no sign of forced entry and no substantial witness accounts. And, oddly, other valuable pieces of art in the home had been left untouched.

Now, Weisman has said he is not going to pursue a payout from the company that insured the paintings.

"It is curious," Sommer said. "We'd like to talk to him about it."

Sommer said it has been difficult to track down Weisman. The detective added that there are no suspects in the case.

News of the canceled policy was first reported by the Seattle Times, which said Weisman stood to recoup $25 million for the art and quoted Weisman as saying that he would rather give up the money than go through the hassle of the insurance company's investigation into the theft.

Weisman did not return calls seeking comment Thursday evening.

A spokesperson for Chartis Insurance, the company that reportedly covered the work, declined to comment.

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joel.rubin@latimes.com

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