Art of the steal! Thief swipes a Ridley Howard drawing off gallery wall

Art of the steal! Thief swipes a Ridley Howard drawing off gallery wall
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

This piece of artwork was beatiful enough to steal — and someone did.

A thief swiped a Ridley Howard drawing right off the wall of Greenpoint’s Allan Nederpelt gallery on Jan. 14 just as an opening night party was winding down, gallery Director Martin Nederpelt said this week.

Nederpelt said he had noticed that a 36-year-old man had been admiring the drawing a little too closely at around 8:55 pm, just as the Freeman Avenue gallery was about to close.

Suddenly, the man ripped the $1,200 drawing off the wall and bolted. Other art lovers gave chase and cornered the suspect near a taco truck at Franklin Street. Howard personally recovered the drawing and returned it to the gallery.

It was a scene that resembled HBO’s “The Wire,” artist Chuck Webster told Art and Auction.

“A bunch of people ran out of the gallery, and there was shouting and a real sense of urgency,” said Webster. “They surrounded the car. [The suspect] got out of the car after a few minutes and was immediately grabbed and pushed up against the fence. It was quite surreal.”

Police officers arrived and collared the man, whom they identified as Jade Uribe, in the “petty larceny gone wrong,” said Officer Steve Truglio of the 94th Precinct.

“Somebody walked in, saw a painting he liked, an employee stopped him, we did a canvas and we caught him,” Truglio said.

A spokesman for District Attorney Charles Hynes said that the two felonies charges could put art-loving Uribe in a rather dour prison for four years, though Nederpelt said he would not press charges since he got the drawing back that night.

“I’m over it,” said Nederpelt. “The drawing is back up, there was no damage. These things happen. We’re living in New York City.”

Howard’s drawing is one of several notable pieces that critics such as Hyperallergic’s Hrag Vartanian, are eager to see.

“I think it’s a good sign when people want to steal art, it means they see value in it, even though I can’t imagine how they planned to make money off it — eBay?” said Vartanian.

“Rules of Engagement” at Allan Nederpelt Gallery, [60 Freeman St. at Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, (718) 928-4999]. Open weekends through Feb. 13.

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