Warhol Silkscreen Stolen in Detroit

05/23/2012 2:51 PM |

Valuable artifact or trifling memorabilia?

  • Valuable artifact or trifling memorabilia?

An unnamed collector operating an unnamed business in Corktown, a Detroit neighborhood, is the victim of a rather hefty—or maybe not so much—art theft.

According the the Detroit Free Press, a silkscreen Warhol used to make the Flowers series, along with 18 works authored by other artists, were stolen sometime over the last weekend of April. Yesterday the FBI announced a $5,000 reward for “information on the hijacked collection”—information directly beneficial to their investigation, presumably.

Quite debatable, it seems, is the estimated value of the stolen works. Since the take included works by artists such as Joseph Beuys, Larry Rivers, Francesco Clemente and Philip Taaffe, some estimates place its dollar value in the millions.

A rather different estimate, namely that of Warhol historian and art dealer Richard Polsky, tops out at around $200,000. The alleged expert sees only scant value in the Warhol screen itself, referring to it as “memorabilia” worth no more than two or three thousand dollars: “The only place it would have value would be to the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh to display alongside a ‘Flowers’ or to a crook who would want to do something fraudulent.”

He also calls the collection, all told, “minor.”

Valuable or not, a further note of interest regarding the collection is how the FBI refers to the its latent state at the time of the theft as neither “on display” nor “locked up.”

Objects such as artworks might certainly exist in plenty of other states between those two—leaning against a wall, in transit, in process, under restoration, in the recycling bin, etc.—but is it not strange that they weren’t stored securely? Perhaps I’m foolish or missing something, but ‘not locked up’ seems a rather curious way to leave, or refer to, an art collection.

If you’d like to glimpse some of the works lifted therefrom, see the FBI’s website.

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