When Art Theft Becomes Art Itself
When you ask him how as a policeman he got started in art, Charlie will politely correct your perception. “It’s the other way around. I am an artist first and then a policeman,” he states with a refreshing mix of artistic exuberance and sensibility that emits only from those who are clearly established ‘in their element’. Actually, artist Charlie is a police sergeant, an art theft investigator and art loss consultant as well, formally speaking. Even though he’s worked on some of the largest art theft cases in human history, which is an unusual offshoot of the crime solving industry to begin with, leave it to an artist to take things to a whole new level. And this particular art theft consultant has done just that. On May 16th at 8pm Charles Sabba will seamlessly blend both careers and present to the public some behind-the-scenes insight on the search for the thieves via The Gardner Museum Heist Exhibition-Lecture at the Salmagundi Club in NYC.
Accompanying Charles at his lecture will be an 8ft x 6ft′ Isabella Steward Gardner Heist freshly painted depiction, which includes many of the prominent figures that were and are involved in the 22 year old ‘unsolved’ case. If ever there were a way to artfully document this fascinating study of human behavior at its worst and best – it is through Mr. Sabba, who paints with the unusual edge of an insider’s eye. The estimated heist price was $500 million and included works by Vermeer, Rembrandt, Degas and Manet. It connected an heiress, mobsters and politicians, and a host of prominent business men and women spanning over a few decades and continents. The incredible irony of this long-running hi-end drama and the upcoming unveiling in May is that the original criminals actually kicked off the heist – dressed in police uniforms.
Mr. Sabba, who can often be found in his art loft at The duCret School of Art, located in Plainfield NJ, is a typical artist only in that – as artists often do – he has managed to put a whole new and rather lighthearted twist on the redundant theme of ‘humans stealing from other humans’. It temporarily lifts a soul’s focus away from the similarly unsolvable political and banking industry foibles of recent years. Perhaps in the very near future, someone might even be savvy enough to commission Mr. Sabba to paint the connected-iconic figures involved in creating and proliferating the ‘disappearing money syndrome’ that became a devastated world economy!
Both the upcoming lecture and exhibition at the Salmagundi Club are open to the public and the admission is free. In the name of the world’s largest ‘whodunit’ art theft case, this should be one very interesting crowd to mingle amongst. A reception party will begin at 6:30pm and the lecture will begin at 8pm. The Salmagundi Dining Room and bar will be open to the public during the exhibition. For dinner reservations, call(212) 255-7740. Dinner is served Tues – Fri, 6 – 9pm with the bar open Mon – Fri, 5:00 – 10:30pm. The Salmagundi Club is located at Forty-Seven Fifth Avenue | New York, NY 10003. For more information regarding Charles Sabba, contact duCret school of Art at 908-757-7171 between 9am – 4pm or visit www.ducret.edu.
Could Whitey shed light on Gardner heist?
A federal grand jury investigation into the notorious heist of $500 million in masterpieces from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum two decades ago has law enforcement and organized crime sources split over whether James “Whitey” Bulger should be called to testify about what he may know.
They are calling it akin to a deal with the devil.
One close associate of the accused gangland serial killer said they’re “sure” the 82-year-old South Boston mobster knows something about what fate befell 13 masterpieces ripped from the Fenway gallery’s walls in 1990, and whose vanishing act has outlasted the 16 years he was one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives.
“It may have been the one thing he held back as an ace in the hole. He loved art. He’s probably even seen the (expletive),” the associate told the Herald.
Bulger is scheduled to go on trial in November for the murders of 19 men and women. Christina DiIorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston, told the Herald yesterday, “As we have said in the past, the government has no reason to believe that James Bulger was involved in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum theft.”
Out of respect for the families of the victims, a former Bulger investigator predicted prosecutors will never negotiate with the cunning crime lord no matter what mystery they think he can help solve.
“He’d have to know the names of the guys who nailed Christ to the Cross,” he said.
Recalling his client’s high-security lift last June from the Plymouth House of Correction to U.S. District Court in Boston, Bulger’s attorney, J.W. Carney Jr., said, “Would they give him a ride again in a helicopter? He’d enjoy that.”
Ulrich Boser, author of “The Gardner Heist: The True Story of the World’s Largest Unsolved Art Theft,” does not believe Bulger knows where the paintings are but would want to talk to him anyway.
“I do think that when he walked out of his apartment the morning after the theft and saw the headlines he made some phone calls,” Boser said.