BYU recovers stolen painting from Swiss baron's estate


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  • Brian Wasilla, AK
    Feb. 23, 2012 6:41 p.m.

    Wow...this is an article about BYU right? Sounds more like a den of thieves.

  • GAmom Athens, GA
    Feb. 22, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    Facinating story! Can Mr Lemmon come help me recover family antiques that were stolen years ago!?

  • Straitpath PROVO, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 6:04 p.m.

    The thief is probably known by the detective. Sickening all the way around.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 6:00 p.m.

    The perp is well known, but he is at his final reward and beyond the reach of earthly courts. Recovering stolen art including Holocaust confiscations is a developing legal field and will be with us for a long time.

  • Mrs. Joe TOOELE, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 4:13 p.m.

    I can't imagine them having much luck with this strategy. Simply saying "we have no record of it being sold" at the same time admitting that they didn't keep really good records or even track of where things were, doesn't prove to me that the paintings were not sold or given away in a legitimate manner. With some of the players dead, the odds of proving otherwise are not high.

  • So. Cal Reader San Diego, CA
    Feb. 21, 2012 3:43 p.m.

    I refuse to read such a long article, particularly after reading this intro:

    "A beautiful oil and canvas painted by the hand of an American master, it was stolen sometime between 1970 and 1985. Once a persistent detective determined it was missing"

    So, this persistent detective determined it was missing during a ..... 15 year time period? What am I missing here? :-)

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Feb. 21, 2012 2:51 p.m.

    Considering the second coming: My thought was that the earth would be burned at His coming. I also thought that some art would be preserved. I have seen some in the temples.

    It is possible that much of the worlds most inspiring art would be brought to the city of Zion for safe keeping knowing that Zion would be caught up at His coming.

    If all that is good could be preserved that would be wonderful. Why only art and literature? Many buildings are works of art. I have seen engineering designs for equipment that are not only technically excellent but also works of art in their own way.

    Sure, preserve that which is worthy of heaven. Once we see what is in heaven we may no longer consider anything of this world to be worthy of that place. An earthy master piece may be doggerel there.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 2:07 p.m.

    It would be easy to get into the storage areas. I know when I was still working and took over the operations and maintenance at the school I had an inventory of all the keys the staff had. I found 17 missing site masters, which former administrators, department chairs and counselors had. They were never asked to return them and so they kept them so they could go anywhere on campus they wanted to. I took them all back and many were upset at that. They never looked at it that they were dishonest by keeping the site master. Eventually we modernized the campus and did a new key system so the only ones who had a site master were the 7 administrators. All others had keys based on their assignments. Each June we had all keys checked in which the staff had in their possession and gave them back in the fall. If anyone left the school without turning back the keys their paycheck was withheld until the keys were returned. As a result our loss of supplies was greatly reduced. I was the only person on campus permitted to assign keys. If someone went to the principal he referred them to me and told them it was my decision alone which key they would get.

  • CougarBlue Heber City, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 1:56 p.m.

    Probably went the same way my imported rare chess set was removed from a display case along with the dolls I brought back from Germany, which were also on display. I saw some of dolls in a professor's office, but he refused to give them back. My sister's initials were on the bottom, but he still refused to return them.

  • mtnight BILLINGS, MT
    Feb. 21, 2012 11:29 a.m.

    The even more interesting part of this story is what was NOT written. The article says no one noticed the departure of between $4 million and $6 million dollars in arts works "via shadowy transactions shrouded in secrecy." Really? Just how did that happen? What were those "shadowy transactions? Who was behind them? The article also said Lt. Lemmon "decided to investigate the years of ongoing rumors of fraud and thievery within the BYU art department." What were the results of that investigation? The investigative work to find the missing art piece(s) is fascinating, but what about the proverbial "rest of the story?"

  • CWEB Orem, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 10:41 a.m.

    Good work Arnie! You're a good man...keep it up!

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 10:29 a.m.

    Ops... sorry... I forgot to change my default name of "Be fair" to my real name of "Allen".

  • Be fair Salt Lake valley, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 10:16 a.m.


    You're right; there were a lot of paintings stolen. We can classify the paintings into two groups. (1) The person purchasing a painting didn't know the painting was stolen. (2) The person purchasing a painting did know the painting was stolen. My previous comment applies to the first group, and AzTim's comment applies to the second group. Enough time has passed since the paintings were stolen, that it is probably impossible to know to which group a particular painting belongs. I think that BYU has no choice but to assume a particular painting is in the first group, and that is what BYU did in the example given in the article.

  • Acegrace Lilburn, GA
    Feb. 21, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    Glad that security has been beefed up. It's amazing it was so lax in the first place!

    Stop wasting space on arguing about the Second Coming. What does it matter in the bigger scheme of things if these survive? They are beautiful now and worthy of our time and appreciation.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 9:58 a.m.

    The Rock,

    Your belief clearly stems from the points of doctrine regarding 'not taking anything with you' and how we only will have our knowledge, etc. Am I right?

    I certainly believe that there is no point in placing value on possessions. I've seen people panic every time they ding their car (small dings), scratch a repairable item, spill water on carpet, and so on... and for what? More stress? We certainly should take care of things, but there is no real human value to be placed in something you can't keep forever. I only intend to illustrate that I understand this principle.

    However, If I wrote poetry and could recite it line by line by memory- then I would certainly keep that with me. Why would God allow that but refuse a painting that someone dear to me made and is now deceased. I will always cherish this painting and I do place value in it. Would I be upset if it burned in a fire? Yes, only that I had lost something. Would I hold onto that feeling? No, because I believe that what is righteous will be fully restored to its place.

    Will the Christus statue at temple square remain? Will a non-religious painting from a very righteous person remain? Will the Mona Lisa remain?

    The truth is that none of us know where 'the line is' or what sort of line that may even exist. What we do know is that God is a loving God and that righteousness will not be destroyed. With that, I don't personally believe everything will be lost, just everything that is not good. That's my thought anyway.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 9:32 a.m.

    @ Allen, the thing is, there were a lot of paintings that disappeared.

    For those of you talking about the second coming, please stop. It is silly and idle speculation for which none of you know the answers. Such a discussion looks foolish.

  • Duckhunter Highland, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:44 a.m.

    @The Rock

    So do you think the 2nd coming entails the destruction of all mans great acheivments? I don't. I would think the great art, the great literature, the great things will be preserved for the most part.

  • Allen Salt Lake valley, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:35 a.m.


    "The message, it appears, is 'we will come after you will a big check book and pay you handsomely for your ill-gotten booty.' Maybe that is how it works in stolen art recovery...it's just sad"

    It will probably never be known who at BYU allowed the painting to be stolen, so the best BYU can do is to show the painting belongs to them and to negotiate with the current owner to get the painting back. The present owner shouldn't be penalized for having the painting when the painting was purchased in good faith. To them, the painting is not "ill-gotten booty". Negotiating to get the painting back for half the current price is reasonable.

  • Oatmeal Woods Cross, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:34 a.m.

    Rock wrote: "I wonder how much art will survive the second coming?"

    My guess: Much more than you think. Great art is an expression of the noblest of human aspirations. There is a great deal of art in the Louves and other art museums that would be appropriate to hang in the temples. Remember th 13th Article of Faith?

  • kiaoraguy Provo, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:18 a.m.

    There is so much more to this story and the other missing pieces than can be alluded to in this article, no matter how it is written. Fascinating story of good intentions, ineptness, poor strategic planning and amazing detective work. Officer Lemon should be heartily thanked for his efforts, the results which may not be seen for decades.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:16 a.m.

    But who at BYU was responsible for these pieces of art work being lost in the first place?

  • The Rock Federal Way, WA
    Feb. 21, 2012 8:07 a.m.

    I wonder how much art will survive the second coming?

    My guess: Not much.

  • AzTim Gilbert, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2012 7:43 a.m.

    Great article. Happy BYU recovered the stolen painting but I'm a little amused/sad about the recovery process and Lemon's boast, "It also sends the message to the art world that we aren't just going to roll over what else is out there that is ours. If we find it, and we have enough of a case file on it to prove that it belongs to us, then we will go after it." The message, it appears, is 'we will come after you will a big check book and pay you handsomely for your ill-gotten booty.' Maybe that is how it works in stolen art recovery...it's just sad.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Feb. 21, 2012 4:28 a.m.

    This is a very interesting article, but someone needs to do some proper editing. Mahonri Young wasn't the namesake of the school's grandson....he was the school's namesake's grandson. Also, "shined" is NOT the correct word...it is "shone." Honestly, I'm really amazed at some of the writing that manages to get printed in the Deseret News sometimes. It's a great paper and I love it, but there really needs to be some improvement in the writing and editing.

    I'm thrilled that BYU got this painting back and I hope they can get the others back. It's terrible how many works of art have been stolen and there's no excuse for it.