May 17, 2007
Normally paintings aren’t stolen until the artist
is dead and the painting is worth a few million.
However, recently a painting has mysteriously
disappeared from Suzanne Stryker’s exhibit at
Entree Cafe Gallery in Fairfield. This is an
exotic crime by Iowa’s standards. The painting
was uninsured. The police said that depending
on how the painting was taken, the penalty
ranges between a monetary fine to five years
in prison. According to the police, either way
someone took a risk here, as it would be
considered a serious misdemeanor and would
permanently go on one’s record. Was this a
painting that someone just couldn’t live
Suzanne said, “I haven’t signed a police report
yet because the police informed me that after a
report is signed that they would prosecute
without consulting me. I will give the person
a chance to return it. I will wait until June 15
before filing a police report.”
With the custom-made frame, the painting measures 16 by 20 inches. The subject
matter is abstract.
Suzanne remarked, “ I was hesitant to exhibit
that painting in Fairfield because it is abstract a
nd sort of wild, and yet, here it was the one
that was stolen!”
If you have any knowledge about the painting, please call 641-472-7767. If you took
the painting, by June 15 please bring it to Entrée Gallery or mail it to Suzanne Stryker,
c/o Entrée Gallery, 203 West Broadway, Fairfield, IA 52556. Please wrap carefully
in thick layers of bubble wrap.
Fairfield artist seeks two stolen
REGISTER STAFF REPORTS
A Fairfield artist is trying to recover two paintings stolen from
a local gallery.
Suzanne Stryker says an abstract painting was stolen earlier
this year and watercolor of a flower was taken about two
Both paintings were taken from the Entrée Café Gallery
near the Fairfield Post Office.
Stryker worked on the abstract painting for six or seven years.
"I finished it just this year," she said. "This is not like having
your TV stolen. I have a lot of hours invested in them. To
me, they are like a child I nurtured."
Fairfield police say they are investigating.
More expensive paintings were left untouched.
Vipul Gupta, owner of the café and gallery, said he knows of no other paintings that
have been taken. "We are a restaurant, not strictly a gallery," he said. "Hundreds o
not huge paintings. They were little enough to put in a backpack."
Stryker said she would drop charges against the culprit if
the paintings were returned. The abstract work was not her
usual style and she said she was almost afraid to show it.
"But I guess if it's good enough to steal it's good enough to
She now plans to paint more of them.
January 4, 2008
The Only Crime that Leaves You Feeling Loved
by Suzanne Stryker
Over nine months ago, a colorful abstract acrylic painting was stolen from my art exhibit
in Fairfield. But this was not a one-night stand. Recently a second painting was stolen from
my current solo show at Entrée Café Gallery, right across the street from the Fairfield Post
Office. This is no reflection against the establishment; even the finest museums get robbed.
This time the thieves took a watercolor of a peach and red colored peony flower.
Around the same time, a Picasso painting was robbed from Brazil’s premier modern art
museum. Picasso has had more works of art stolen (551!) than any other artist in the world.
My advice to the thieves: help Picasso maintain that status and leave the smaller artists like me
The Des Moines Register interviewed me three times about my art thefts and posted an article
with photographs on its website. In response to the article, a reader wrote, “I like those
paintings, The first one reminds me of Georgia O’Keefe, and the second one seems like a
cross between Picasso’s cubism phase and Jackson Pollack, and a stained glass window.
I hope she gets them back.”
I wonder where the paintings are now. Maybe the thieves gave one to their mother and the
other to a lover. I want to know — did they like the paintings? Do they go with the couch?
Why did they take and take again — is the business that good? Who wants this kind of art?
If the new owners like my paintings so much, how about calling me directly and cutting out
Why did the thieves steal those particular paintings and not a nearby oil painting priced twice
as high? Was it personal taste or professional incompetence? Did they flunk Art Theft 101?
Their fence should be furious.
Many people have bought my art, but no one until now has ever dared risk going to jail for
five years and having it go on their record permanently. The thieves could be considered to
be my biggest fan!
On the other hand, selling paintings is how I make my living. I feel slapped and deeply
complimented twice, but not so complimented that I don’t want my paintings back. If
anyone has seen them, please call me at 641-472-7767. I am offering a $200 reward for the
safe return of the paintings.
I would like to communicate with the robbers: I want you to know that I will drop the
charges if the paintings are returned. Please let me know if my paintings are okay. You could
contact me through my website, www.paintyoga.com. I am not trying to trick you; email me
from the library or somewhere where it could not be traced. Also, I am tempted to tell you: If
you know people that appreciate my paintings, let’s work together. Let’s go legit,
I’ll be generous with commission.
Crimes of the Art Part II
by Suzanne B. Stryker
What does a Tabasco Sauce heir, a mystery man, and a Fairfield artist have in
common with paintings worth millions found in the trash, behind a public toilet, and
under a bench in a cemetery?
People frequently inquire about my three stolen paintings - I have been asked to
write an update because, finally, I have good news to report. Each painting was
stolen about nine to twelve months apart. The painting that vanished over twelve
months ago has been recovered. If there is any consistency in the profession of art
thievery, should I expect another painting to vanish or reappear in another twelve
I credit the media with the safe return of my painting. After this third painting was
taken, the Associated Press caught wind of the story and extensive media coverage
ensued. In interviews I made it clear that I would not press charges against the
culprits if the paintings were returned. I said, “The bandits could be considered to
be my biggest fans, as they have risked being fined, going to jail, and having this go
on their record permanently. I want to give them the opportunity to return the
paintings and avoid prosecution.”
Around the same time that my last painting vanished, four paintings with a
combined worth of about $163 million were robbed from a Swiss museum. About
a week later, two of the paintings, one by Claude Monet and the other by
Vincent van Gogh, were discovered in the back seat of an unlocked car, in the
parking lot of a mental hospital just a few hundred yards from the scene of the
crime. The clinic employee who found the two masterpieces received a portion of a
$90,000 reward for the four paintings.
I’m used to my art disappearing. When I was studying art in college, I was invited by
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to visit him in Europe. While there, dozens of my paintings
and hundreds of my drawings disappeared. Fast forward twenty years later. The
phone rings. It is Sam McIlhenny, one of the heirs of Tabasco Sauce. To my
surprise, he tells me that he had one of my paintings in his family’s mansion on
Avery Island, an island near New Orleans which is owned by the family. He traveled
to Fairfield, Iowa, and hand delivered Conception to me, shortly before his untimely
death in 1995. Conception is an experimental abstract painting that disappeared
again in 2006.
It rarely happens that the same painting gets taken more than once. However, a
painting by Rembrandt, Jacob de Gheya III, holds the record for the most stolen
painting. It has disappeared and then reappeared four times. It has been found
in a taxi in England, a luggage rack in a German train station, underneath a bench
in a London graveyard, and on the back of a bicycle. Each time the painting has
been recovered anonymously with no one ever being charged for its disappearance
Several months ago I received another unusual call. The man said that he read
about my stolen art in some magazines and that he knew a business that sometimes
sells stolen art. He said he would call back after he found the phone number for the
business. He would not leave his name or phone number because he felt concerned
about his safety. I waited with excitement, but the mystery man never called back.
Maybe, he never found the phone number. Maybe it was just a prank call.
By freak chance a few months later, I noticed a phone number in a magazine
display ad that looked familiar. I compared it with the number that I had copied down
from caller id when the mystery man had called. It was the same phone number. I
did some research and found out that he was a reputable person and businessman.
I called him and assured him that I would not reveal his identity to anyone.
Eventually, he gave me the name for the place that sells stolen art. The local police
couldn’t help me investigate because it was out of state. I was advised not to go to
the place, so I called the police in the area where it was located. The police never
returned my call. Finally, I took matters into my own hands. I paid someone to
investigate the establishment for me. It did have artwork, but not mine. The
investigator pointed out that my paintings could have been sold months ago.
Most stolen art never is recovered.The FBI estimates plundered art totals about
$6-billion a year and experts say only about five to eight percent resurfaces. At a
33% recovery rate, I guess I’m lucky.
By the way, did you see the remake of the Thomas Crown Affair movie with Pierce
Brosnan? In that spectacular movie a bored billionaire playboy found unusual ways
of stealing paintings and exciting ways to return them. Is this a diluted Iowan version
• Woman in White Reading a Book, a painting by Pablo Picasso vanished in
1940 and resurfaced after 65 years.
• Many works of art that were looted during the Second World War have only
recently appeared on the international market, some 60 years later.
• Still Life with Peaches, a painting by Edoward Manet was stolen in 1977 and
recovered twenty years later.
Famous Art Can End Up in Unusual Places
• In 2003, a woman rescued an abstract canvas that was nestled between two
big garbage bags in Manhattan, after initially passing it by because it seemed too big
for her cramped apartment. Three years later she found out that the painting was by
Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo and was worth about $1 million. The painting was
stolen twenty years earlier in Houston. She received a $15,000 reward for her find.
• Thieves got past closed-circuit TV cameras, alarms, and 24-hour patrols to take
a Gaugin, Picasso & van Gogh from an English gallery in 2004. After an anonymous
tip, the paintings were located the next day, damaged and rolled up in cardboard tube
behind a public toilet. With them was a note that the thieves had intended to highlight
• From 1995-2001 Stephane Breitwieser stole 238 artworks worth an estimated
$1.4 billion while traveling around Europe. Over 60 paintings, including masterpieces
by Brueghel, Watteau, Francois Boucher, and Corneille de Lyon were shredded by
his mother and forced down her garbage disposal. Other works of art such as vases,
jewelry, pottery, and statuettes were thrown into the nearby Rhone-Rhine Canal,
where some were later recovered through dredging. She didn’t seem to be aware of
their value. A Swiss police officer said, "Never have so many old masters been
destroyed at the same time."
Happy Endings to Art Crimes
Gustav Klimt, was restored to Maria Altmann, an heir of the prewar owner.
Provenance was easy to establish because the subject of the painting was
Altmann's aunt. The painting was sold to cosmetic magnate Ronald Lauder for
$135 million. Four other paintings by Klimt were also recovered by Maria Altmann
and her co-heirs. Collectively, the five paintings sold at auctions for over $327
• Three paintings were stolen from a German gallery in 1994, two of them
belonging to the Tate Gallery in London. The paintings were recovered by buying
them back from the thieves with insurance money for them being stolen. In addition,
Tate Gallery received more from the insurers than it paid to the thieves, profiting
about $30 million!
|More coming soon.
|Copyright © 2016 Suzanne B. Stryker - All Rights Reserved
Only in Fairfield would the
response from the victim
of the theft be so peaceful.
Merry Christmas, everyone.
Des Moines, Iowa
|Suzanne B. Stryker
|Crimes of My Art 2