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Collector who reported Warhols stolen criticizes LAPD

Richard L. Weisman interprets a detective's remarks as implying that the Westside resident had a hand in the theft and calls the idea 'the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard.'

October 22, 2009|Joel Rubin

Richard L. Weisman, the noted art collector who made news recently when he decided to forgo a multimillion-dollar insurance policy for stolen art, had some critical words for the LAPD detectives investigating his case.

"Maybe if they would do their job . . . and spent some time looking for the art instead of being accusatory of the person who had it stolen, they might actually find it," Weisman said in an interview last weekend.

The art world was set abuzz in early September with word that a series of original works by Andy Warhol had been stolen from the walls of Weisman's home on Los Angeles' Westside. None of the other expensive artwork hanging on adjoining walls was disturbed, and there was no sign of forced entry into the home, police said.

In all, 11 brightly colored silk-screen paintings were gone: 10 portraits of famous athletes and one of Weisman, 69, who was a friend of Warhol's and commissioned the series in the late 1970s. Some experts estimated that each piece was worth at least $1 million.

Then last week the Seattle Times confirmed with Weismann that he had canceled the $25-million insurance policy covering the Warhols.

LAPD Det. Mark Sommer, who makes up half of the department's two-man art theft detail, called the turn of events "curious" in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, saying that "we'd like to talk to him about it."

Sommer added that he and his partner, Det. Donald Hrycyk, a veteran art sleuth, had been unable to track Weisman down for an interview.

Weisman interpreted the comments as implying that he had had a hand in the paintings' disappearance as part of a scheme to defraud Chartis, the insurance company that issued the policy.

"The idea that I would steal from myself is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard," he said. He added that he had nothing to hide from police but would not speak to them because his attorneys had advised him against it.

Weisman also reiterated his reason for dropping the insurance payout, saying he would rather do without the money than go through what he said would be the invasive prying of insurance company officials into his personal matters during their investigation into the theft.

"It's really no one's business -- my phone records, my ex-wife's, my son's. I don't want to put them through all that. . . . Money isn't everything."

Sommer declined to comment when told of Weisman's remarks.


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