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Fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach's home is burglarized

Burglars steal millions of dollars' worth of artwork and other items from DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach's Santa Monica home.

September 20, 2012|By Andrew Blankstein and Joe Bel Bruno, Los Angeles Times
  • Jeffrey Gundlach is offering a reward for the safe return of the art and other items stolen, including his 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S, several expensive watches, pricey bottles of wine and a small amount of cash.
Jeffrey Gundlach is offering a reward for the safe return of the art and other… (Jin Lee, Bloomberg )

Star bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach is used to winning, but he just suffered a $10-million hit in the most unexpected way.

Returning to his posh Santa Monica home after a business trip to New York this week, he found a blank space on the wall where a cherished landscape by William Wendt once hung. He then noticed more blank spaces where he had part of his multimillion-dollar art collection.

The crooks even drove away in his red Porsche Carrera — and shut the garage door on the way out.

Gundlach, heralded on Wall Street for his bond investing prowess, is the founder of DoubleLine Capital in Los Angeles. He is considered one of the savviest fixed-income traders in a corner of the financial market known for chewing up even the most seasoned pros.

Gundlach, not accustomed to such unusual and personal losses, has a theory: The burglars didn't know much about art, but ended up with several priceless works.

"There are basically four [pieces] that are in the non-replaceable category," he said Thursday. "The mix of things that were taken suggest that the people did not come to take art."

He's offering a $200,000 reward for the safe return of the art and other items stolen from the home, including his 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S, several expensive watches, pricey bottles of wine and a small amount of cash.

The haul included one-of-a-kind art, including works by Jasper Johns and Piet Mondrian. Among the items taken were paintings by Expressionist artist Richard Diebenkorn, Impressionist Guy Rose and landscape artist Hanson Duvall Puthuff. There were also abstract Expressionists in the mix, including Franz Kline and Philip Guston.

Among the rare pieces taken were two wood box paintings, entitled "Medici Princess" and "Pinturicchio Boy," by Joseph Cornell. Gundlach said the pieces are "extremely intellectual," noting that art students study both the paintings and the box construction for their meaning.

"He was a recluse that worked out of the basement of his mother's home," he said about Cornell.

The Johns painting, "Green Target," was an abstract that Gundlach called "incredibly seminal."

What meant the most to him was Mondrian's "Composition (A) en Rouge et Blanc," a 1969 oil on canvas. He said it is "extraordinarily rare to begin with, but very few are as elegant and in the type of condition [as this one is]. You can wait years before any Mondrian comes to sale."

Gundlach liked the artist's distinctive double lines so much that he named his investment firm DoubleLine Capital. He said Mondrian is one of his favorite abstract artists.

The 52-year-old Gundlach became one of Wall Street's most acclaimed mortgage-bond investors over the last decade and helped bring his previous firm — TCW Group — tens of billions of dollars in business from institutional and individual investors.

TCW fired him in 2009 in a dispute that rocked the investment world. Within 10 days of departing TCW, Gundlach launched his own firm. Most of his team at TCW quickly joined him, and the new firm attracted $13 billion from investors in just 19 months and now manages $45 billion.

DoubleLine is one of the fastest-growing money management start-ups in the country, handling mutual funds, separate accounts and hedge funds. Gundlach's flagship DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund, launched in April 2010, has generated a nearly 37% return through August — dwarfing the 19.4% return from Pimco's Total Return Bond Fund, managed by high-profile investor Bill Gross.

Santa Monica police aren't saying whether the crime was targeted or random, akin to the hundreds of so-called knock-knock burglaries over the last year across the Westside of Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. Such burglaries are named after the way crews of thieves knock on doors to make sure that occupants are gone before they break in.

Police also would not say whether the thieves were captured on security video, stressing that the investigation is in its early stages.

Although some expensive items were taken, others were left behind, Gundlach said.

Investigators are working with the Los Angeles Police Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Justice Department and Interpol. In addition, the stolen artworks have been logged into a computer system that would potentially flag anyone trying to sell the paintings on the open market.

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

joe.belbruno@latimes.com

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