$3.1 MIL FOR ART HEIST VICTIMAug. 24, 2011
Michael Bakwin, the victim of a more than 30-year-old residential art theft in Massachusetts -- the largest in the state’s history – has been awarded $3.1 million in a civil suit against the man who harbored six paintings stolen from Bakwin’s Berkshires home in 1978, the Boston Globe reports. Robert Mardirosian, a retired lawyer, was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison in 2008 for possession of the works, which included a Paul Cézanne and two works by artist Jean Jansems.
Investigators believe Mardirosian purchased the paintings in 1978 from his client, David Colvin, who was never charged with the crime because he was shot and killed the following year, apparently over a $1,500 poker debt. Mardirosian then hung onto the paintings for two decades before transporting them to a Swiss bank and ultimately London, where he tried to sell them. There the local Art Loss Register discovered that the works were stolen.
The $3 million compensates Bakwin for costs he incurred tracking down the missing paintings. But that’s nothing compared to the reward of the returned paintings, one of which, the Cézanne still life Bouilloire et Fruits, ca. 1890, fetched him $29.3 million alone at Sotheby’s in 1999.