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Beverly Hills Weekly
Beverly Hills, California
April 13, 2000     Beverly Hills Weekly
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April 13, 2000

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COV Larceny on La Peer Some of our neighbors have an appreciation for fine art. Even if it's not their own. By Justin Levine A noted bank robber, when asked why he robs banks was report- ed to have quipped, "Because that's where the money is." If a more discriminating thief prefers to deal in paintings over pesos, many of them are likely to find there way to Beverly Hills - because that's where the art is. It is no secret that the our Golden Triangle and its surrounding area contains some of the most fashionable upscale galleries in the world. When people are willing to pay several millions for a canvas that looks as though some chimpanzee spilled paint cans over it, you can be sure that the art world will attract its own brand of scare artists. Consider the recent case of Nureet Granott, 50, a La Peer resi- dent. In 1995, Granott entered the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum in Westwood, along with her husband David Yehuda Cohen, 33, also of Beverly Hills. Granott reportedly drove up in a sleek Mercedes and looked the part of a typical upscale Westsider with a taste for fine art and younger husbands. She asked to rent some choice paintings from the rental gallery worth several thousands of dollars. To secure the paintings, Granott produced a credit card and dri- ver's license with the name of Hanit Peretz. It turns out Peretz was the name of Granott's sister who was living in Israel at the time. The credit card and license were fake, as was the information which facilitated the lease on the Mercedes. Unfortunately for the museum, the art was real. Were Granott and Cohen out to sell the art for big bucks on the international black market? Was she looking to open her own gallery using stolen goods for sale? Apparently not. It seems that they simply used the art to spruce up the decorations in their 90211 pad. HOW THEY GOT CAUGHT ii Soufh La Peer Drive home of Nureet Granott Given the fact that the art was not in circulation in illicit sales circles, the only thing police had togo on was the fact that art is a unique item that is easily iden- tifiable. The larcenist on La Peer might have been successful had it not been for the LAPD Art Theft Detail. The Art Theft Detail is comprised of Detectives Don Hrycyk and KaraLynn 10 Beverly Hills Weekly Clifford. It was started in 1983 in order to have personnel concentrate on thefts involving art due to the difficulty in solving such cases. It remains the only law enforcement detail like it in the world, consulting with other law enforcement agencies such as INTERPOL, the FBI, and the Beverly Hills Police Department. "Traditionally, the cases are very tough," Detective Hrycyk told the Weekly. "But strong ties to the art community help." Neither Hrycyk nor Clifford have had any formal art background or train- ing. Hrycyk worked Homicide and Clifford was in Sex Crimes before being tapped for the A,-t Detail. "We have had to train ourselves," Detective Hrycyk explained. "There is no formal training in this country." Unfortunately for Grannott, their training paid off as the pair was able to uncover her true identity and track her to her Beverly Hills home. "They had a nice home. Tastefully furnished," Detective Clifford said. "They apparently just wanted [the art] to decorate the home, which makes it tough to find." Another factor making it difficult to track stolen art is the fact that gal- leries often do not report the thefts. Granott and Cohen apparently had art in their home that was taken from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, but the LACMA rental gallery manager did not report the stolen pieces to the police, even after recognizing the works in a bulletin distributed by the Art Theft Detail. It wasn't until the artist himself came across the stolen art bulletin and rec-