Stolen & Recovered Paintings

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These are some of the paintings stolen by my former art dealer Roland Crane.  They were stolen in 2011 at a time of great vulnerability which Mr Crane took full advantage of and made off with over 1,000 of my paintings and several boxes of my personal affects.   His propensity to take advantage of others eventually landed him in jail and a criminal record.  
 
To recover most of my work I had to hire an attorney and fight hard.  Eventually my attorney and I prevailed…..mostly, but not before racking up a $26,000 bill to my attorney.   We settled pre trial where an agreed upon list of my work was returned to me.  However, many works remained in dispute with Crane claiming he never had those works nor personal affects.   Facebook photos of his events proved otherwise.  
 
Years later, in 2021, I was contacted by Crane’s soon to be ex wife.   She was in LA and in possession of many of the disputed paintings.  She and Roland were in the process of getting divorced.  She felt intense remorse about what had happened years before and wanted to set things right with me by returning the work without Roland knowing.  I had to rush to LA to recover them within days and did so.  Later she brought a few more pieces to me when she was in Seattle because apparently a few pieces had been stashed at her parent’s home in a Seattle location.  
She was absolutely contrite about the theft and in fear for her physical well being due to Roland’s deterioration of mental stability.  
 
I am extremely grateful for her courage and moral compass.   To say that I am grateful to have these paintings and many others I have not photographed yet, back in my possession is the understatement of my career.  
 
There are still several key works that Mr Crane has in his possession.  Some of them are paintings that he legitimately owns either because he bought them or I gifted them to him. But I would take those in trade for the costs and hardships I have endured.  
 
Years ago my attorney assured me the works would find their way back to me because of their quality.  I decided that was a pleasant mixture of flattery and practicality so let it take go at that time.   Well….he was right.  So here’s hoping that the remaining pieces will also find their way home. 

“Mother and Son”
Oil/Canvas
48″ x 20”
1982

The way this is painted and the subject matter are both worth some comment. It is among a small body of work that actually cohere in a remarkably consistent way. It is a surprisingly early style. Clearly it is very derivative of early cubism. What is particularly interesting to me is how evolved and consistent the palette is.  This little cluster of pieces are all this particular soft blue with softened edges. The “cubism” here also expresses an understanding that the “look” of cubism isn’t just about a “look.” You can see I was using the extension of lines in the figures to open the form to the background so that the figures overlap and form visual puns and ambiguity of space. These are some of the intellectual underpinnings of cubism that were lost on even some of the early adopters of the style in Paris back in the early part of the 20th century. I owe much of my deeper understanding beyond its visual “look” to my close relationship with Dr. Woodal.   
 
Eventually, I too became more interested in the expressive and emotional potential of cubism. You can see that already in this painting but even more so in the paintings that came immediately afterwards.   
 
Part of that drive towards emotional potential was shaped by my subject matter. As I left my nuclear family I naturally felt a lot of nostalgia for my close relationships with my mother and siblings and the pain of separation. There are a lot paintings during these two to three years of mothers and sons, siblings clustered together and estranged positioning with father figures.   
 
In many cases the mother-son relationship paintings have a soft ethereal quality. The paintings of siblings or myself with families are often very intense and raw. At the time I could not see that. But from the distance of several decades it’s easy to see that my relationship with my mother continued to be a source of comfort and support well into my young adulthood even though in everyday life my mother was in unison with my family’s incredulity and disapproval of my choice to be an artist. 

“Gourd”
Oil/Panel
24” x 24”
1996-7

This painting was stolen twice.   The first time was in 1998 or so, shortly after I painted it.  One of my dealers at that time loaned it to someone for consideration.  After many years of effort I was finally able to recover the piece in 2014.   
 
Sometime shortly after that I was approached by someone I thought of as a friend.   She asked if she could borrow it for a show of art at her kid’s school.  I reluctantly agreed since I had only recently recovered it.  
A few months later when I thought it was time to recover my painting my friend was no longer available.  After repeated calls, emails, texts and even other friends reaching out on Facebook, I gave up.  
 
If anybody has seen this piece please contact me so that I may resume my efforts to recover it.  

“Marni’s Back with Red Square”
Oil/panel
36” x 26” Approximate
1995

This piece was not stolen from me.  It was not stolen from the guy who bought it from me.  After a few years he was going through some life changes and decided to sell some of his art.  By that time I had an art dealer named Roland Crane.  Mr. Crane agreed to hold the painting in his possession and would try to sell it for my patron.  This is a standard procedure in the art world.  
 
What is not standard is that after a period of time my patron decided he would like to have his paintings back in his possession since it had been some time and the art did not sell.  Mr. Crane, however, decided not to return them and to this day it remains in his possession as far as I know.  He may have subsequently sold it without notifying anyone.  
 

If anyone has any information about the whereabouts of this painting please let me know.  

 

“The Devil Card” Detail
Oil/Panel
8′ x 4’
1993

Paintings are stolen in a variety of ways.  Most people envision an elaborate heist where the criminal invests a lot of time and technology to bypass elaborate security measures and then fences it to a high rolling mafia boss type where it decorates his liar along with ill begotten  antiquities, oversized jewelry and fur covered furniture.  
 
Well,  my art has been stolen in more ways than I would have ever imagined.  But that hasn’t happened yet.  Instead, it’s usually much more mundane and subtle.   In this case, the art was given to someone by my art dealer at the time, Gary Gibson ( not the owner of the Gary Gibson art gallery in Seattle).   
 
In addition to being my art dealer, Gary worked on political campaigns for local politicians.   He was a consummate wheeler and dealer who made more promises than he could keep.  One day, without telling me, he gifted this painting to someone who had done him many favors and so felt entitled to look the other way when Gary offered it to him in exchange for the favors he had been granted….none of which were for my benefit.  So Gary was able to clear his slate while clearing out mine.  
 
To make matters worse, this was a piece of a much larger work. That painting was made of 3 large panels, each one measuring 8 x 4’.   When put together the piece was 12’ tall and 8’ wide.   This was the lower left section.  
 
The loss of this piece rendered the rest of the painting useless. And so I chopped it into pieces and made smaller paintings of them.  
 
This was the best piece.  And I would love to have it back.  If anybody has seen this piece please let me know so that I can pursue recovering it.  
 

“Anna and Arnold”
Oil on panels
8’ x 4’ each
1994

I painted “Anna and Arnold” on separate panels for a reason.   The main reason was that I could not afford a canvas 8’ x 8’ at that time. Instead, 4’ x 8’ panels were readily available and cheap at the local lumber store.  Moreover, while I saw this as a single painting, it was meaningful that these 2 figures each had their own panel.  It’s known as a diptych.   The separateness of the figures into their own panels has connotations I may explain in a different setting.  
 
They are in this section of my website because someone stole “Anna.”   Ironically, out of my long career nearly 40 years at the time of this writing it is the only time my art ever got a mention in the newspaper.  At that time, about 1994, Seattle was a much smaller city.  It was in fact, talking a lot about its growing pains.  It was, as a city, aware that it was transforming from a big town into a small city.  One of those conversations was around it’s one and only and very entrenched art critics.   She had apparently been the only art critic the Seattle Times had on staff for over 20 years and had used her position to become one  of the main gatekeepers to access into Seattle’s small and very insular art world.  
Well, to my surprise, Ms Hackett responded to my request for some attention over this theft and she and a photographer came out to do a story.   
 
It was my hope that the story would lead to recovering the painting.  It didn’t.  But it did allow me to bump up against Seattle’s art establishment for at least one moment.  After that I slipped into glorious obscurity for the next 30 years.   And while I am not holding out a candle to ever become a known artist in Seattle, I am still hoping to recover my “Anna.”