LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Stolen lithographs signed by artist Benjamin Crème were turned over to police by a San Fernando resident who found them in a deceased relative’s storage space.
Los Angeles police on Tuesday said the person who found the stolen prints called LAPD’s Mission Division on Sept. 25 to report the discovery and wanted to turn them over to authorities.
The unidentified caller told detectives he found the 1,200 prints while cleaning out a deceased relative’s storage unit.
Police say that person discovered the artwork was stolen after visiting a law enforcement website.
All of the lithographs were by Benjamin Crème, a Scottish abstract expressionist, and the pieces date back from the 1960s and 1970s. Hundreds of signed and numbered prints of nine Crème pieces were found in the cache.
The artwork had been reported stolen from a storage facility belonging to Art Flaum’s publisher in west Los Angeles in 2012, according to the LAPD. Flaum said he couldn’t believe the artwork had been recovered.
“I completely thought it was a hoax, ‘someone’s trying to scam me,'” Flaum said.
About 1,300 of approximately 2,300 unframed prints from that theft have been recovered.
The artwork recovered from San Fernando is valued at about $800,000.