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Stolen N.C. Wyeth Paintings From Beverly Hills, Boston Now At Portland Museum of Art

N.C. Wyeth was one of America's greatest illustrators (Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:N._C._Wyeth)
N.C. Wyeth was one of America’s greatest illustrators (Photo credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:N._C._Wyeth)

Two stolen N.C. Wyeth paintings that were the objects of a $20,000 reward have been recovered in the Boston area, after four other works by the American realist painter were recovered in a Beverly Hills pawnshop last December, authorities said Friday.

The six works had been stolen from a Portland, Maine businessman and art collector in 2013, according to the FBI.

In November of 2014, after a lengthy investigation, the FBI in Portland obtained information indicating the stolen paintings had been brought to the Southland so assistance was requested from the FBI in Los Angeles.

In December, the FBI’s Los Angeles division recovered four of the six stolen paintings at the Dina Collection, a high-end Beverly Hills pawn shop featured in a reality TV series, authorities said.

The two paintings that had remained missing — “The Encounter on Freshwater Cliff” and “Go, Dutton, and that Right Speedily” — were turned over by a third party on Oct. 9. to retired FBI agent Jim Siracusa in the greater Boston area, according to the FBI.

“Both paintings were found in good condition, inside cardboard boxes, and in their original frames,” according to an FBI statement.

Three people — Oscar Leroy Roberts and Dean Coroniti of North Hollywood, and Lawrence Estrella of Worcester, Massachusetts — were charged in Los Angeles in connection with the investigation.

Roberts, 37, who used the recovered four paintings to secure a loan from the pawn shop, pleaded guilty in February in Los Angeles. The aspiring rapper was sentenced to 28 months in federal prison.

According to federal prosecutors, Roberts brought the paintings, which he knew had been stolen, to Dina Collection owner Yossi Dina, star of “Beverly Hills Pawn” on cable television’s Reelz channel, to have them sold last year for at least $1 million.

When he learned that the FBI was attempting to recover the paintings, Roberts lied to investigators about not knowing the location of the artwork, and then later gave agents a false account of where the paintings might be, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney James A. Bowman.

Roberts then obtained a $100,000 loan from Dina, and urged the pawn shop owner to drop the asking price for the paintings so that they would be sold more quickly, according to a pre-sentencing memorandum prepared by Bowman.

Shortly afterward, Dina alerted police to the transaction, he said.

After the FBI located the paintings and arrested Roberts, he was recorded on a jail telephone telling his fiance to hide the $100,000 and warn another witness not to talk with anyone, according to court papers.

Roberts also told his fiance to lie in connection with their application to buy a home, and say that he was in intensive care.

Coroniti, 55, pleaded guilty in March to possession of stolen property and is scheduled to be sentenced in December.

Estrella, 65, pleaded guilty in February to interstate transportation of stolen property and was sentenced in Maine to 92 months in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release.

According to court records, Estrella brought four of the six stolen paintings to California in an effort to sell them.

Law enforcement officers in Los Angeles located his vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel in North Hollywood. Although his room at the hotel was searched and a firearm was located, no paintings were found.

The recovered artwork is now in the possession of the Portland Museum of Art and, at the request of the owner, will be available for visitors’ enjoyment, according to the FBI.

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