Two suspects have been arrested for stealing a print by Marc Chagall from a New York City gallery and police have recovered and returned the work.
Three thieves had smashed their way into Carlton Fine Arts’ location on Madison Avenue around 2:12 a.m. on September 25 and made off with a lithograph by Chagall said to be worth around $100,000, according to gallery owner Charles Saffati.
The suspects were still on the run more than a month after the heist. The New York Police Department (NYPD) confirmed in an email to Artnet that Carlton Smith, 59, and 61-year-old Larry Nestman were arrested in December. The third suspect remains at large.
Both men have been charged with burglary and criminal possession of stolen property while Nestman has been hit with an additional charge of criminal mischief, police confirmed.
“Anything that happens on Madison Avenue you kind of want to take an interest in,” Joseph Metsopulos, a detective with a NYPD major case squad investigating the theft, told WNBC. “It’s alarming when smash-and-grabs happen on Madison Avenue.”
Saffati said he thought it was a joke when the police called him to inform him the work had been recovered. The detective was filmed carrying the framed print down Madison Avenue to return it to the gallery by WNBC as Saffati exclaimed: “This is like winning the lottery.”
After the theft, Saffati had told WNBC that the work Eve (1971) was “a $100,000 piece.” However, an anonymous tipster said in December that the print might not actually be nearly that valuable.
Other prints from the same edition have sold for less than $10,000. When asked about the high price by Artnet News, Saffati said that figure was “based on the retail value.” The work is once again on view at the gallery.
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