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California Collectors Seek to Prove Stolen Art Exists

SANTA CRUZ, CA (AP).- Two men accused of lying about having millions of dollars of artwork stolen from their high-rent home in Pebble Beach released documents Friday that they insist proves they were ripped off.

The packet distributed to reporters at an afternoon news conference contained a list of 19 paintings that the collectors, Benjamin Amadio and Dr. Ralph Kennaugh, say were stolen. Amadio said additional artwork was taken during the September 25 burglary but the 19 paintings were their most prized.

The list included works by Joan Miró, Vincent Van Gogh, Jackson Pollock and others. The untitled Pollock has received the most attention because it has been speculated to be worth up to $40 million.

The document release was in direct response to the Monterey County Sheriff's Department statement earlier this week questioning the veracity of the alleged crime and naming the two men as suspects in the case.

Cmdr. Mike Richards said the men had not been forthcoming with investigators and had not provided documents proving the works existed or were ever in the men's possession. Richards also alleged Amadio has lied to investigators.

"We are positive about the untruthfulness of several statements. This in turn adversely impacts his total credibility, to include his statement that someone stole his valuable paintings," Richards told The Associated Press earlier this week.

The men's lawyer, Vicki St. John, and her ex-husband, insurance broker David St. John, said investigators on Friday were also provided the list given to the media, as well as other information.

Richards said Friday afternoon he had no knowledge that the department had received any documents from Amadio and had not seen, but acknowledged a detective may have received something without him knowing.

Amadio said the paperwork was faxed to the lead detective in the case, and a phone message was left for the detective.

The list does not appear to include proof of ownership. Images of the paintings are accompanied by descriptions, some of which is cited as coming from the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Amadio and his lawyer said some of the images were taken off of the Internet to illustrate what the pieces looked like and that they existed.

Additional pictures provided to authorities and not made public, Amadio said, show some of the paintings hanging in their Boston apartment.

Vicki St. John also said the documents provided to law enforcement included a list outlining how the men obtained the Pollock, such as letters from the artist to the original buyer, and eventually to them.

Kennaugh, a retired Boston oncologist, and Amadio, his business partner, have offered a $1 million reward for the return of the paintings.

Amadio has repeatedly denied allegations of lying about the case.

"There's no hoax, there's no investors, there's no insurance claim," reaffirmed their lawyer on Friday.

She also attempted to ease relations with the sheriff's office, which Amadio has claimed botched the investigation. He had called the department corrupt and incompetent.

"What I'd like to get everybody to do is play nice in the sandbox," she said.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

Artwork Stolen | Joan Miró | Vincent Van Gogh | Jackson Pollock | Benjamin Amadio | Dr. Ralph Kennaugh |

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