|The First Art Newspaper on the Net
||Established in 1996
|| Saturday, January 18, 2020
|Artwork, stolen without a trace, turns up 7 years later|
Benjamin Creme, Within the Gates, 2009. Edition #101/350 through #350/350. Lithograph, 28" x 16 1/4". Photo: LAPD.
by Jaclyn Peiser
LOS ANGELES (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Seven years later, Michael Flaum still remembers the shock when he opened his storage locker in Los Angeles.
It was completely empty, Flaum said, recalling that day in August 2012. Its very traumatic.
Inside had been more than 2,300 signed and numbered prints by British artist and mystic Benjamin Creme that were valued at over $800,000. Flaum had published Cremes work and was also a close friend.
For two months afterward, I could still see when I opened the locker and it was completely empty, Flaum said. It sort of felt like when you get into a car accident and you have this image in your brain replaying.
Despite the efforts of the Commercial Crimes Division of the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI, the case went cold not long after the theft was discovered.
On Sept. 25, Detective Steven Franssen of the Commercial Crimes Division got a call from a police station in San Fernando, California. He was told that a woman had showed up with the prints in her car and wanted to turn them over to the authorities.
This is not normal, Franssen said in an interview.
The woman, whose name was not released, said she had found more than 1,300 prints in a pile of items she inherited a few years ago from a deceased relative, Franssen said. She said she had taken them home and forgotten about them.
It was only a few weeks ago, Franssen said, that the woman decided to go through the items and noticed the art. In doing a Google search to learn the value of the works, the woman discovered that the prints were listed as stolen, she told police. She immediately loaded them into her car and drove to her local police station.
It is unclear how the womans relative obtained the prints. She told the detective that her family member was gifted the art, but she did not know from whom.
About a week ago, Franssen called Flaum to tell him that most of the artwork that had been stolen from his locker was recovered. About 1,000 prints are still missing.
I thought it was a hoax, Flaum said of the call. I was just so happy. It was so unexpected.
Detectives returned the signed prints to Flaum on Monday.
Among the recovered works were prints titled Flame-Coloured Deva, Polarity and Soul Infusion. Flaum plans to spend the next few weeks going through them to check for any damage. The majority, he said, are in good shape.
Flaum, who didnt own the artworks but oversaw their printing and facilitated their sales, said he would return the prints to Cremes estate in London. The 2,300 prints were worth $800,000 at the time they were stolen but are likely worth more today, Flaum said.
Creme, who died in 2016 at 93, was born in Scotland and started painting at age 13. At 16 he dropped out of school to focus on his art, which consumed him day and night, according to the Benjamin Creme Museum.
Inspired by modernism, Creme was known for his abstract expressionist work, employing vibrant colors and geometric shapes.
Although he defined himself as an artist first, Creme was also an unconventional spiritual leader and a student of esotericism.
Creme claimed to have received a prophecy in 1959 from one of Christs close disciples, he said in an interview. Creme said he was told his mission was to spread the teachings of Maitreya, whom he described as a combination of the Jewish messiah, the Christian resurrected Christ, the Muslim Imam Mahdi, the Hindu Krishna and the fifth Buddha. The Maitreya, he said, would arrive soon and reveal himself.
He believed the Maitreya, also known as the World Teacher and Head of our Spiritual Hierarchy, would bring peace, equality and justice to the world. Creme gained a modest following and traveled around the world giving lectures. He wrote 17 books, which included his artwork on the covers, and he started the Share International Foundation, which publishes a magazine and arranged Cremes speaking engagements. He also developed a new meditation called Transmission Meditation.
Flaum, a follower of Creme who also practices his meditation method, said the artist did not accept money from his spiritual endeavors, sending it all to his foundation. But the prints became a source of income, Flaum said. Cremes buyers were often also his followers.
When the theft of the art from Flaums locker was discovered in 2012, he said, Creme was surprised, but wasnt worried about the lost business. Years later, not long before Creme died, Flaum visited the artist at his home in London and brought up the missing work.
He said Theyre probably at the bottom of the ocean by now, Flaum said. He had written it off. Ben was not into material things.
© 2019 The New York Times Company
November 9, 2019
Dayton Art Institute presents exhibition Maker & Muse
Milton Avery, Georgia O'Keeffe, Emily Carr & more to lead Sotheby's American Art Auction
It's time for the Costume Institute
Artwork, stolen without a trace, turns up 7 years later
Sotheby's announces highlights of Latin American Art to be auctioned this November in New York
Richard Gray Gallery opens an exhibition of new work by Alex Katz
DMA debuts multisensory design exhibition featuring new works by Yuri Suzuki, Misha Kahn, Ini Archibong, and others
V&A appoints Gus Casely-Hayford as Director of V&A East
The Fundació Joan Miró presents Sound Art?
AbEx women shine in contemporary art sale at Swann
Pace Gallery is presenting an exhibition of 10 new large-scale paintings by Mary Corse
Marianne Boesky Gallery opens an exhibition of works by Donald Moffett
First major survey in a decade of Ben Quilty's work opens at the Art Gallery of New South Wales
National Portrait Gallery Collection to travel across the UK
Chapter NY announces Ann Greene Kelly's second solo exhibition at the gallery
Rare and important early silver tankard by Bartholomew Le Roux could bring six figures at Weiss Auctions
Connie Butler, Chief Curator at the Hammer Museum, to receive the CCS Bard 2020 Audrey Irmas Award
Acclaimed master of digital art opens up new frontier with spectacular interactive exhibition on Bond Street
Carriageworks presents a multilayered installation and season of performance work by Mike Parr
PEER presents Sara Mackillop: Returns and Renewals
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts opens a new wing
Woody De Othello's first solo museum exhibition on view at the San José Museum of Art
Prospect New Orleans 2020 announced Title, Curatorial Framework, and Programming Partners
One-of-a-kind ring by Sevan Bıçakçı to be auctioned at Phillips
The best acoustic guitar strings for fingerpicking
Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .
|Royalville Communications, Inc|
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.