Is This Your Picasso? Police Search for Owners of Stolen Artwork Recovered by Auction House

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The search is for the owners of a cache of priceless artwork and artifacts recovered in California after being stolen nearly three decades ago. 

A reputable auction house earlier this year informed the LAPD they had come across art they believed to be stolen, officials said. 

Recovered pieces included two Picassos, a work from Joan Miró and a picture and letter signed by President Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California, as well as an autograph by Marlon Brando, CBS Los Angeles reported

Additional paintings, some sculptures, clocks furniture and antique guns were also among the treasure trove, authorities said.  

“We recovered over 100 items,” LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza said. 

Investigators have already verified some of the work to be stolen, but believe most were snatched from homes in the Los Angeles area between 1990 and 1993. Armenian nationals were arrested for the burglaries at the time, but the works of art were never recovered, officials said. 

The person who brought the items to the auction house reportedly inherited them from a now-deceased relative, who had been convicted and imprisoned for burglary charges, investigators told CBS LA.

“Through their due diligence,” the auction house came to believe the work brought to them was stolen, Carranza said. 

The LAPD then launched what they are calling Operation Demetra. 

The investigation into the burglaries is ongoing, as is the quest to return the stolen artwork, officials said. 

“We would like the media's help and the public's assistance helping us identify the rightful owners so we can return these items to them,” Carranza said. 

Many of the paintings were not stored correctly and have suffered damage as a result. 

While some victims may get their possessions back, some of their value may never be returned. The painting that caught the eye of the auction house dealer was worth $60,000 at the time it was stolen, police said. 

Investigators are working with experts from the auction house and the Getty Museum to identify the pieces, the artists who created them and assess their current market value. 


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