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

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ognized his work when he contacted police to report the LACMA thefts. "Art galleries keep personnel matters a secret. They don't like to publicize any swindlings," Detective Hrycyk explained. Apparently if word gets out about a particular gallery that it is easily susceptible to art theft, it can have a harder time attracting choice artists to display there. This would help explain why so few establishments were willing to speak with the Weekly about this topic. Granott was eventually arrested and pied guilty to four counts of grand theft. Although the District Attorney's office requested jail time, Granott was sen- tenced to 90 da),s house arrest, 5 years probation, and ordered to pay restitution to the victims. Police heavily suspected that Cohen was equally involved in the art scams, but most of the false applications and rental agreements were in Granott's name. Cohen was never brought to trial due to the lack of evidence. cool $12,000. Employees at the Jewelry and Loan refused comment, citing ongoing litigation stemming from the matter. Vasconcellos didn't have the funds to retrieve the painting after four months, so the pawnshop sold it to another buyer. Only problem was that soon after- wards, the paintings true owner contacted Vasconcellos to inquire on its status. They had a nice home. Tastefully furnished. They apparently just wanted [the art] to decorate the home, which makes it tough to find. OTHER WHITE COLLAR SWINDLES The Granott case was hardly the only instance where the LAPD Art Theft Detail was forced to go slumming within the borders of Beverly Hills. The high volume of fine art within Beverly Hills keeps them returning here to the scenes of the crimes. One such instance was in mid- 1999 when the Art Theft Detail worked in conjunction with the Beverly Hills Police in order to nab Mr. Steven Vasconcellos. It seems that Mr. Vasconceiios was involved in multiple frauds in the Beverly Hills art world. Soon after moving to California from Hawaii in the early 90's. Vasconcellos worked for the Dyansen art gallery formerly locat- ed at 337 N. Rodeo Drive. While at '  ;. the Dvasen, Gallery, Vasconcellos ,: received it painting by actor Ton 0 Curtis on consignment. i The only problem was that . Vasconccllos never told the gallery " of the Curtis painting to be sold. C-eorge Adams Jr. Instead, he decided to keep the painting for himself - free of charge. Beverly Hills Police got wind of the situation and promptly arrested him. Vasconcellos was fired from the Dyansen Gallery, which closed its Beverly. Hills location over a year ago (it is now slated to be a Brioni retail store). Despite this past history, Vasconcelios was able to later secure a job with the Beverly Hills Carthew Thompson Gallery in 1995. In a case of Degas vu, a busi- nessman soon consigned a $50,000 Diego Rivera gouche to the gallery. Vasconceilos handled the transaction, but again never told the gallery owners about it. This allowed him to keep the painting when he was soon fired from the gallery. Out of a job, Vasconceiios decided to try and open his own gallery. In order to raise the funds, he took the stolen Diego Rivera and reportedly hawked it at the South Beverly-Wilshire Jewelry and Loan at 157 South Beverly Drive for a -- Detective KaraLynn Clifford At that point, Vasconcellos approached the LAPD Art Theft Detail and con- cocted a story about the painting being stolen. The subsequent investigation by the Art Theft Detail revealed the fraud per- petrated by Vasconcellos, and he ultimately pied guilty to grand theft in May 1999. Yet another Beverly Hills caper involved cousins George Adams Jr. and Jon Johnson who had a liking for Leroy Neiman serigraphs. In fact, their apprecia- tion for Neiman's work was so great that they allegedly took to purchasing them with stolen credit card numbers. One such work was a $1,000 Neiman serigraph of Marilyn Monroe that was "purchased" at the Carol Lawrence Gallery at 244 North Beverly Drive in May of 1996. Adams and Johnson also wanted Neiman's $6,200 rendition of Frank Sinatra, but as luck would have it, the amount exceeded the credit limit of the particular card number that they lifted. The Art Theft Detail was contacted by another gallery who thought that the duo were a bit suspicious after one of their stolen credit card purchases. How were they suspicious? Apparently one of the expensive Leroy Neiman works wouldn't fit into their car, so the gallery offered to have it delivered for them. Rather than accepting the offer. Adams and Johnson decided to tie the fragile w'ork to the top of their car. Not exactly the sort of behavior one ould expect,/rom an art lover on the up and up. I)clectJ,,cs Hrycyk and Clifford tracked thc Neiman works to Adams home on East 7th Street in Long Beach. The lro sign of Adam's house displayed a sign for psychic readings. "They obviously weren't atl that good since they did not toresee their own arrests." Detective Hryc 3 k mused. Both suspects pied guilty to various counts of burglary and credit card fraud in late 1996. LOCAL COPS ON THE LOOKOUT The LAPD Art Theft Detail has managed to steer clear of the recent scandals plaguing the Rampart Division and other areas of the department. One can imagine Johnnie Cochran getting them on the stand to try and cash in on the times C'Admit it! You planted that Picasso on my client, didn't you?!! This gives new meaning to the word frame-up' your honor! And if the frame doesn't fit..."). WHY IS BEVERLY HILLS HOME TO SO MANY WHITE COLLAR CRIMINALS? Send us an e-mail at editor@bhweekly.com i i Renew your fictitious business statement at the lowest cost! The Culoer itg Iiems offers fictitious business statements for us low as S50! For forms and informeUon, roll or visit our brunch office ot the 6eueri9 Hills LUeehlg: 140 S. Beuerig Driue, Suite 201 In between LUilshire ond Charleoille 6eoerlu Hills, Cfl 90212 310.887-0788 make check or money order payable to the "Coastal Cmmnunily newspaper". The Culuer City news is adjudicated for the County of Los nngeles, pursuant to Case 3154529 on march 24,1980. April 13-19, 2000 11