Wealthy Los Angeles investment banker and noted art collector, Richard Weisman, lost millions of dollars worth of Andy Warhol original 1970s art in a heist worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster. Weisman’s housekeeper alerted authorities of the 11 missing paintings on September 3 after she noticed the bare walls. He had left his house a full day earlier, so it’s unclear as to when the theft occurred.
According to police reports, the stolen paintings include works depicting famous athletes, such as boxer Muhammad Ali, tennis champion Chris Evert, L.A. Lakers basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Olympic skater Dorothy Hamill, and former football star O.J. Simpson. The silkscreen works adorned the walls of Weisman’s dining room.
“The Athletes” series, commissioned by Weisman, isn’t an example of Warhol’s best work, but is still well known. The thieves even stole a portrait of Weisman done by Warhol in a time when he produced pieces for wealthy patrons that could afford the $25,000 he charged. Weisman penned From Picasso to Pop, a tome about his extensive collection.
Detective Donald Hrycyk, head of the LAPD’s art theft department, said there was no sign of forced entry into the home. Nothing else appeared to be stolen and some Warhol pieces were even left behind. An anonymous donor has offered a $1 million reward for any information leading to the recovery for the paintings.
Hrycyk said there are no immediate leads or suspects, but they believe this Warhol collection could have been specifically targeted. Weisman, a personal friend of Warhol, described the theft as a “profoundly personal loss to me and my family.” Weisman’s mother, Marcia Weisman, was a founder of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles.