“Stolen” Art Found in Owner’s HomeInsurance Fraud, s — By Trace America on December 28, 2011 at 2:53 PM
What do Rembrandt and Salvador Dali have in common, other than being amazing artists? Their work showed up on an Internet auction site last spring. And while that might sound like an amazing thing if you’re an art collector, it isn’t. Those pieces were reported stolen back in 2007.
According to the StarTribune, earlier this month, several government agents with a federal search warrant entered the home of Jason Sheedy. They reported finding the same artworks that he said were stolen four years ago.
Sheedy filed a $274,905 insurance claim for the missing art and collected $254,832 in January 2008, according to a sworn statement by FBI agent Amanda Knez. According to Knez, investigators learned that Sheedy listed six of the artworks on an Internet auction site last May, and that he’d pawned and redeemed some of the missing pieces several times.
Sheedy, 38, has not been charged with a crime yet, but Knez stated in her affidavit that investigators found evidence of mail fraud and wire fraud.
Among the items Sheedy reported stolen were three photos that had signed by former President Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama holding their respective Nobel Peace Prizes. On a police report he estimated that they were worth $20,500.
Sheedy, a management consultant, is listed on the board of councilors at The Carter Center in Atlanta. He’s also listed as a donor who gave between $25,000 and $99,999 to the center during 2008 and 2009.
A fellow board member, Lauren Speeth, CEO of the Elfenworks Foundation in Burlingame, CA, said, “He cares so much about the Carter Center.” She said she knew nothing about his art collection and was surprised to learn about the allegations against him.
Speeth also noted, “I think he’s a sweetheart. As a board member, he’s attentive, aware … really everything you’d want.”
Sheedy filed a police report in Minneapolis back in September of 2007 in which he stated that while he was moving from his St. Paul home to a Minneapolis condo he had to park the moving van on the street for a few days because the condo wasn’t ready. He told police that someone broke the padlock off the truck and stole his belongings, including the art and collectibles.
The items he listed as having historical value include the Carter photos, and a silver-and-gold Arabic knife. He also listed a number of paintings and etchings, which include: “Robbers Inferno,” a 24-inch wood engraving from Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali’s “Divine Comedy” portfolio; eight works by Rembrandt: “Bust of a Man,” “Christ and the Woman,” “Landscape With Cow,” “Self-Portrait,” “Artist’s Mother,” “The Card Player,” “The Golf Player” and “The Raising of Lazarus”; two works by Russian-born French artist and designer Erté (Romain de Tirtoff); two by Ukrainian-American artist Anatole Krasnyansky and two by American pop artist Peter Max.
AXA Art Insurance Corp, the company that paid Sheedy’s claim, stated that six of the works that investigators say he listed for sale this year on Artbrokerage.com were the same ones it had insured. The insurer’s documents indicate that he bought the works through an auction house called Park West Gallery, and it also includes an invoice from Princess Cruises Fine Arts for one of the Peter Max pieces.
Knez notes that in September, an employee of the Art Loss Register notified law enforcement about the items up for auction. The organization specializes in deterring and investigating international art theft. She said the insurer enlisted the group’s help to watch for the missing works.
Knez also stated that Sheedy used some of the artwork as collateral to obtain loans. Investigators found receipts from the pawn transactions in the trash outside Sheedy’s residence. Knez did go on to state that the loans were paid off and the collateral was redeemed.
Investigators searched Sheedy’s home in St. Paul on December 13th, where they found 22 works of art and historic items that were reported missing in 2007. They also seized financial records, insurance and sale documents, and computer equipment and storage devices.
This post is authored by Trace America.