FBI Busts Man in Case of the Bender and the Missing Painting

The FBI has arrested an ex-con in connection with the disappearance of a painting valued at nearly $1 million dollars

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    Damian Trujillo
    These agents were part of a 48 sweep of the South Bay for registered sex offenders.

    The FBI has arrested an ex-con in connection with the disappearance of a painting valued at nearly $1 million dollars. Thomas A. Doyle was arrested on charges of mail fraud and wire fraud, FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said Thursday.

    The Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot 'Portrait of a Girl' painting vanished when one of Doyle's associates claimed he took the painting to a potential buyer but then claimed he lost it when he got drunk in a bar the same night.

    The portrait's majority owner, Kristen Trudgeon sued and past criminal charges against Doyle came to light.

    A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said the painting has not been recovered.

    The FBI said Doyle allegedly lied in first obtaining the painting in a deal with a previous Japanese investor.  He allegedly lied about the purchase price of the painting in order to pocket the difference.

    According to court papers, Doyle committed wire fraud and mail fraud. Prosecutors said Doyle claiming the cost was $1.1 million when in fact the price was $775,000. Trudgeon allegedly paid over $800,000 for an 80 percent share. Doyle allegedly knew appraisers had valued the painting at $500,000 to $700,000.

    "Thomas Doyle will not be decorating his walls with any fine works of art anytime soon, and those walls may be the inside of a prison cell," said FBI assistant director Janice Fedarcyk.

    The painting is still missing. On July 29, surveillance video shows Doyle's associate James Carl Haggerty entering the Mark Hotel with the artwork around 12:50 am. Haggerty has claimed he lost track of the painting after drinking heavily that night.

    As for Doyle, he has a past arrested for stealing art books from a library in Kansas and jewelry from a woman in Tennessee. He is expected to appear in federal court later Thursday on the charges.

    "Doyle's alleged efforts turned out to be an inartful fraud," said Bharara.