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Caller leads LA police to $800,000 in stolen artwork

by ace
Caller leads LA police to $800,000 in stolen artwork

This time the detectives didn't have to track down the stolen art. Someone brought it to them.

Los Angeles police said on Tuesday they had recovered $ 800,000 in prints from Scottish abstract expressionist Benjamin Creme after a caller said he was in a house in the San Fernando suburb of Los Angeles.

Police believe the nearly 1,300 prints were there for several years, but callers recently checked a police database and found they were stolen.

The unidentified caller told police that they were found among a relative's belongings after she died.

"The family took things and kept them at home for several years when they finally started investigating and found that the art was stolen," Detective Steven Franssen told the Associated Press. "They immediately packed and took it to the police station."

The engravings, each signed and numbered, include "Flame-colored Deva", "Shakti II" and other Cream-colored works, which in recent years have become better known for their belief in UFOs and predictions of a second coming of Christ and other messiahs.

He died in London in 2016 at 93 years old.

Franssen said police returned the prints earlier this week to their incredulous owner, lithographer Michael Flaum, who produced them.

"He was extremely shocked when we called," said the detective, laughing. "He didn't even believe it was the police department at first."

Flaum said he discovered the theft one day in 2012 when he went to a closet where he had 2,300 prints stored. From time to time he would sometimes sell to raise money for the artist who in his later years spent more time on metaphysical activities.

When Flaum arrived at the closet, he found that it had been broken into and cleaned. He added that 974 impressions remain, but wasn't thinking much about it on Tuesday.

"I was thrilled to get them back," he said. "I'm so happy for the family."

Franssen said police still do not know how the impressions ended up in the possession of the woman who has died since, but he added that police do not believe any member of his family has any role.

Creme, born in Glasgow, Scotland, in 1922, said he was 13 when he decided to devote himself to art and began to paint and draw constantly. Early work included landscapes, but in the 1940s he turned more to colorful abstracts.

From the 1960s, he began to turn his attention to metaphysical issues, saying in writings and lectures that he was telepathically communicating with a "master."

He developed a new form of meditation in 1974, called Transmission Meditation, and began publishing several books, according to the Benjamin Creme Museum website. At one point he claimed that Jesus Christ and other messiahs had returned to earth, but they did not reveal themselves.

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