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Art of the steal: Tasteful thief swipes paintings worth $1.7M from W’burg facility • Brooklyn Paper

Art of the steal: Tasteful thief swipes paintings worth $1.7M from W’burg facility

Missing: Police are searching for the thief who swiped this Thomas Moran piece and five other paintings from Williamsburg’s Crozier Fine Arts last summer.
NYPD

Police are canvassing the borough to find the crafty crook who swiped six paintings from a Williamsburg fine-art warehouse last summer.

Some cultured criminal ran off with the landscapes by recognized American artists including Thomas Moran, Jasper Francis Cropsey, and David Johnson — priced at a total $1.7 million — after breaking into the Bayard Street storage facility owned by Crozier Fine Arts, an artwork storage-and-transport company that acquired the space’s previous owner — another so-called art-logistics firm called Cirkers — in January 2017, cops said.

The pieces’ 69-year-old owner, a private client of Crozier, hadn’t seen his collection of works by first- and second-generation Hudson River School painters in a few years when he went to check on it on Aug. 16, 2017, but the paintings were nowhere to be found when he arrived at the warehouse, according to a law-enforcement source.

Workers at the facility between Manhattan Avenue and Leonard Street near McCarren Park also checked its inventory for the missing artworks, and did not uncover them, the source said.

The storage space is equipped with cameras, but Crozier’s purchase of Cirkers complicated investigators’ attempts to get their hands on the surveillance footage, officials said.

“The facility has changed ownership a few times, so part of the difficulty has been investigators trying to get records from prior owners to try to get a complete picture about who had access to what and when,” a police source said.

And because there are so many moving pieces to the puzzle, cops wanted to take a close look at the case before issuing their public alert — which came a little more than six months after the victim first reported his missing paintings.

“A number of people may be involved — there’s a lot of pieces to this, and we have to make sure it gets done the right way,” a police source said.

Crozier officials are working with investigators to find the missing art, according to a rep.

“Last month, Crozier Fine Arts was notified by the New York Police Department that they are investigating a complaint concerning alleged missing artwork stored at the former Cirkers location in Williamsburg,” said Christian Potts. “Crozier is working cooperatively with the NYPD on the investigation, and is committed to determining the status of the alleged missing items.”

Anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577–8477. The public can also submit tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then entering TIP577. All tips are strictly confidential.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

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