Truckload of Missing Art Found in Trailer Park
07.05.2006 By ALAN FEUER
AXA Art Insurance Corporation "Grey Nude," by Milton Avery.
A multimillion-dollar art heist that began two weeks ago when a truckload of paintings, sculpture and antique furniture vanished on the road from southern Florida to New York ended Wednesday night in an unlikely place: a 30-year-old trailer park in Gainesville.
It was there, at the Arredondo Farms, that a task force of the Gainesville Police Department and the Alachua County sheriff's office arrested the driver of the truck, Patrick J. McIntosh, after they had surrounded a trailer belonging to what one official called "his baby's momma's sister." Mr. McIntosh surrendered without incident, the authorities said, and the art was found some three miles away, still in the truck untouched.
"The guy gave up," said Sgt. Keith Faulk, who works for the sheriff's office. "He was a big ol' boy, too — 6-8, 280. I think he might have thought about slipping out. Then again we had the residence surrounded."
Mr. McIntosh, 36, had been missing since April 17, when he and his 24-foot Budget rental truck pulled out of Boca Raton with millions of dollars worth of art, including seven canvases by the Abstract Expressionist painter Milton Avery. He had been hired by David Jones Fine Art Services to deliver the art from private dealers and collectors — and at least one museum — in Boca Raton to a series of homes and galleries in New York.
"He appeared to be very polite, very hardworking, you know, dependable," said Susan Buzzi, who works for David Jones. "But who knows what lurks — well, it's a mystery I suppose."
Ms. Buzzi said Mr. Jones had gone today to Gainesville to take an inventory of the truck and make sure that all the items in the cargo bay were still there. As for Mr. McIntosh's motives for traveling to Gainesville, she could not divine them.
"Maybe it was a stop he had to make," she said. "But he could have let us know."
Teri Barbera, a spokeswoman for the sheriff's office in Palm Beach County, said that Mr. McIntosh had an 18-year-old son in Gainesville whom he apparently had gone to visit. He also had what Ms. Barbera described as "several wives and girlfriends."
The Palm Beach County sheriff's office had been tracking Mr. McIntosh nearly from the day he disappeared, following a paper trail he left through Fort Pierce, Fla. — 90 miles north of Boca Raton — with Mr. Jones's corporate bank card. Ms. Barbera said investigators eventually determined that the truck had a Global Positioning System and used it to locate Mr. McIntosh in the trailer with his kin at Lot 40, 7111 South West Archer Road.
He was held in Gainesville on charges of grand theft and grand theft auto, Ms. Barbera said, and would soon be returned to Palm Beach County.
Arredondo Farms, which calls itself "a manufactured home community," is one of the more established trailer parks in Gainesville with 300 families on a total of 440 sites, said Sandy Johns, its manager. Ms. Johns was quick to add that Mr. McIntosh did not live in the community and that, while she knew that he had family there, she was not certain who they were.
"We're just a mobile home community," she said, "a family community, families live here. We don't have any clue about any of this. It doesn't make any sense."
Pernel Dove, who lives next door to Mr. McIntosh's relatives, said she had no idea that anything was amiss until she saw a pack of television reporters toting cameras, standing outside an adjoining trailer. She is a psychic — licensed by the state of Florida, she said — who conducts clairvoyant sessions over the phone.
"I didn't have an inclination it was coming," she said today. "What kind of psychic am I, right?"