Terry Helbling's Victims to Get Art Back Today
Today's the day that gallery owners victimized by art thief Terry Helbling -- the subject of SF Weekly's current cover story -- are recovering their pilfered objects d'art. The $200,000 worth of art and artifacts had previously been stored in what looks to be a warehouse of crimes gone wrong (you can see glimpses of what appear to be a Tour de France's worth of bicycles behind pictures of the stolen artwork here and here). Gallery owners are, as we speak, wandering into the Hall of Justice to collect their paintings -- or three, or six -- unearthed from Helbling's Tenderloin apartment.
Gallery 444 co-owner Desiree Mitchell isn't going to recreate Fort Knox to protect the $36,000 Rafal Olbinski painting that was stolen from her in 2006.
"I'm going to put it back on the easel it got stolen from in our window," she says with a laugh. "But I'm going to lock it to the easel so if you take the painting, you'll have to take the easel with it. And the window alarm should be on this time." See that it is.
Mitchell hasn't suffered a theft since Tulips was nicked five years ago and subsequently recovered from Helbling's art-saturated room in the Cambridge Hotel. Commercial art theft is "an unusual thing. Art is hard to sell -- we can't hardly sell it these days."
|Tulips, back from its sojourn in Terry Helbling's apartment|
Technically, Tulips belongs to Mitchell's insurance company. But the company has consigned it to her in hopes of selling it. The painting "has a fascinating story and people like stuff like that," Mitchell says. "They like to have history on their artwork. Now I can say this painting came from the artist to this guy, to me, to the other guy who stole it, and here it is back again from our insurance company."
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