Who stole Jackson Pollock? Painting's owner gives FBI a name
1.26.2006 ALLENTOWN, Pa.
MICHAEL RUBINKAM, Associated Press
The owner of a Jackson Pollock painting stolen from Scranton's Everhart Museum two months ago said he has forwarded the name of his No. 1 suspect to the FBI, and that the person has a connection to the museum.
The Pollock's owner is an artist formerly from northeastern Pennsylvania, whose paintings are featured in museums and private collections around the country. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he does not want to draw attention to himself, or to his own art collection.
The thief or thieves who broke into the Everhart on Nov. 18 swiped two artworks: an oil by Pollock that could be worth millions of dollars and a less valuable silkscreen by Andy Warhol.
Everhart spokesman Joe Palumbo said Thursday that museum officials don't believe the theft was perpetrated by anyone affiliated with the museum. "But then, to clarify that, they have no idea" who did it, he said.
The owner declined to say why he suspects the person whose name he gave the FBI, but said his information is based on official accounts of what happened and his knowledge of the museum's security.
An FBI spokeswoman confirmed the agency is investigating but declined to provide details.
The painting's owner said Thursday that he purchased the painting, created in 1949, from Pollock himself for about $1,000. The painting remained part of his personal collection for decades before he decided to lend it to the Everhart Museum more than two years ago.
Authorities have previously referred to the painting as "Springs Winter," but the owner said the correct name is "Winter in Springs."
"Winter in Springs" is not included in the catalogue of Pollock's known work, but Helen Harrison, director of the Pollock-Krasner House & Study Center, said that previously unheard-of works by the famed abstract expressionist have occasionally come to light.
The painting's owner said that for security reasons, he would never reveal the existence of a painting until he was ready to sell it or lend it. He said he owns other works by Pollock.
Although the 40-inch-by-32-inch painting has never changed hands, a similar work by Pollock sold at auction for $11.6 million in May 2004. Experts have said the Warhol, a 1984 silkscreen called "Le Grande Passion," is worth $10,000 to $15,000. The Warhol was part of the Everhart's permanent collection.
"Winter in Springs" wasn't insured, according to the owner and the museum. The owner said insurance on art is prohibitively expensive and that he doesn't know a private collector who has it.
Authorities have said that the thieves shattered a glass door at the rear of the Everhart to gain entry. They tripped motion sensors, but were gone by the time police arrived.
Surveillance cameras were not working. Even if they had been, the cameras are not set up to record images, Palumbo said.
The owner said he was recently summoned to testify at a grand jury session that was subsequently canceled. Palumbo said that to his knowledge, a grand jury has not been convened to investigate the theft. Grand jury proceedings are secret in Pennsylvania.
The Everhart never established the Pollock's provenance when it accepted the painting from its owner, but the FBI is going on the assumption that the painting is genuine, FBI spokeswoman Jerri Williams said. The FBI investigates stolen art only when it is worth $100,000 or more, or if it is at least 100 years old and worth $5,000 or more.
"We are pursuing it and attempting to identify who is responsible and, if possible, recover the artwork," Williams said.
Pollock, who created his abstract art by dripping and pouring paint on large canvasses spread on the floor, died in a drunken-driving crash in 1956 at the age of 44.
The Everhart, which specializes in natural history, science and fine arts, was founded nearly 100 years ago. It draws 15,000 to 20,000 visitors annually