California police arrest two suspects in theft of $10M worth of art
SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Two suspects were arrested and found with about $10 million worth of art stolen from the home of a Southern California financier, Santa Monica police said Thursday.
The theft of the paintings made waves in both the art world and on Wall Street, where the victim, star bond trader Jeffrey Gundlach, does business. They were the priciest part of the major burglary where the thieves also took expensive watches, wine and a Porsche Carrera 4S, which were not recovered.
"The focus was on recovering the artwork, and it was all recovered," Gundlach told the Los Angeles Times. "The thieves had worked on moving the property, but we were able to get a good lead and apprehend them. It's a great day for the art world."
Most of the paintings were found when authorities, working on a tip from local police, served a search warrant on a car stereo store in Pasadena, Sgt. Richard Lewis said in a statement.
The store's manager, Jay Jeffrey Nieto, 45, was arrested Wednesday.
The investigation then led to a home in nearby San Gabriel, where police arrested Wilmer Cadiz, 40, and found him in possession of four more paintings.
One final painting was found at a home in Glendale, and police said the person found with it is cooperating in their investigation.
There is no known connection at this time between the victim and the suspected thieves, Lewis said. It was unknown whether the men had lawyers, he said.
Of the still-missing Porsche, Gundlach told the Times, "Maybe whoever has it will drive to a Ralphs Parking Lot and just drop it off and end this."
Gundlach returned home from a business trip Sept. 14 to find that more than a dozen paintings by the likes of Piet Mondrian and Jasper Johns, worth some $10 million, were missing.
He had offered a $1.7 million reward for the art's return, and $1 million for just the return of the collection's biggest prize, Mondrian's "Composition (A) En Rouge Et Blanc." It was not clear if anyone would be eligible to claim the reward.