The article about the Brigham Young University art theft, subsequent investigation and recovery efforts was an excellent summary and update. Lt. Arnie Lemmon's brilliant detective work was an integral factor in every aspect of the case. He is the only one of the team of investigators and administrators who worked on the case who is still at BYU.
The account caused me to reflect on the enormous task we undertook to gather records, assess and document losses, investigate criminal activity and develop and execute claims for each individual missing work of art. As art collections manager from 1985-90 and as associate director of the Museum of Art, I reported to James Mason, dean of the College of Fine Arts and Communications. He supported a collaboration with university police and obtained funding and authorization to conduct the investigation on a national level. Assistant Chief of Police Wesley Sherwood, now deceased, led the police side of the investigation, which included Lemmon and former FBI agent Stuart Morley.
Working together, we analyzed records obtained through subpoenas and search warrants to provide documentation of theft, various modes of criminal activity and to identify individuals who had been involved in ongoing scams and outright theft. University general counsels Gene Bramhall and Bill Fillmore provided the necessary legal help.
Fillmore traveled with us to New York several times when claims were presented to holders of stolen artwork and to retrieve recovered art. He also worked with me on the special issue of the IFAR Journal on the losses at BYU (IFAR is the International Foundation for Art Research, whose primary purpose is the maintenance of an archive of stolen and missing artworks). This issue, published in June 1988, documented the history of BYU's art collection, discussed the categories of missing art, described criminal prosecutions and included a photographic database of known missing works.It is particularly satisfying to know that this publication is now computerized and is still assisting in the recovery of missing works. It is even more satisfying to know that Lemmon, through his ever diligent and effective detective work, is still actively pursuing and recovering BYU's art and striking fear in the hearts of art thieves.
Virgie D. Day is the former art collections manager and associate director at the BYU Museum of Art.