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Displaying items by tag: not guilty

Thursday, 21 February 2013 12:44

Arrest Made in Dalí Heist

Phivos Istavrioglou, a resident of Athens, Greece, has been arrested in connection to the botched theft of a Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) painting from a New York gallery last June. Security cameras captured Istavrioglou as he made off with the watercolor and ink work, which is valued at approximately $150,000. After surveillance images were released to the public, a panicked Istavrioglou mailed the Dalí painting back to the Upper East Side gallery in a cardboard tube.

 Fingerprints left on the returned painting helped officials track down Istavrioglou, 29, and he was arrested on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at John F. Kennedy airport in a sting that lured him to the United States from Italy. After his arrest, Istavrioglou appeared briefly in a Manhattan court where he pleaded not guilty to grand larceny in the second degree. Istavrioglou’s bail was set at $100,000.

 The stolen painting, Cartel de Don Juan Tenorio (1949), was on view at the Venus Over Manhattan gallery as part of its inaugural exhibition, which opened in May 2012.

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Known for her extravagant shoe collection, one-time Philippine first lady, Imelda Marcos, also accrued an admirable art collection during her late husband’s reign. Marcos’ former secretary, Vilma Bautisa, was indicted on Tuesday, November 20th, on charges of conspiracy, tax fraud, and offering a false instrument for filing, all relating to artworks that had previously belonged to Marcos. 74-year-old Bautista acquired a number of important paintings from Marcos and her husband, Ferdinand, after his regime came crashing down in 1986 after a citizen revolt.

The Manhattan District Attorney hit Bautista, a New York resident, with charges that she was conspiring to sell paintings that were the legal property of the Philippine government. The District Attorney’s office claims that Bautista used false paperwork to sell Le Bassin aux Nymphéas (1899) from Claude Monet’s Water Lilies series in September 2010 for $32 million. The other works in Bautista’s possession are Monet’s L’Eglise et La Seine a Vétheuil (1881), Alfred Sisley’s Langland Bay (1887), and Albert Marquet’s Le Cypres de Djenan Sidi Said (1946). The four paintings involved in the suit once hung in a Manhattan town house used by Imelda Marcos and her husband.

Two of Bautista’s nephews were also charged but did not appear in court. Bautista pleaded not guilty and was released on a $175,000 bond.

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The case involving a congregation of Catholic nuns headquartered near here, which sued a Santa Fe, N.M., art dealer and a local appraiser for fraud in the sale of a painting by Nineteenth Century genre artist William-Adolphe Bouguereau, has ended, with the sisters unsuccessful in their attempt to be made whole on the painting's true value.
The case went to jury trial in December. Before Justice Michael C. Lynch of the Albany County Supreme Court on January 6, closing arguments were presented to the jury after a brief hiatus during the New Year's holiday. The case went to the jury on Monday, January 9, and by Monday afternoon the verdict came back — the two men on trial for "scamming" the sisters, Mark Zaplin and Mark LaSalle, were found not guilty.

"I'm shaking! It's been a three-year nightmare," said a relieved Zaplin when contacted after word of the jury's decision came down. "There was no fraud here and the jury found 100 percent in our favor."

In August 2008, the Daughters of Mary Mother of Our Savior and St Joseph's Chapel, based in Round Top, N.Y., claimed that the dealer, Zaplin, and Mark LaSalle, a New York State art appraiser, colluded to defraud them of the $1.7 million they believe they could have gotten for selling "Notre Dame des Anges," an 1889 work by Bouguereau that depicts Mary standing in the clouds with the Christ Child surrounded by angels. (See Antiques and The Arts Weekly, March 30, 2009.)

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