The Boulder Police Department announced Monday that it has recovered $400,000 worth of stolen American paintings.
On the evening of December 14, employees of a company that shipped several pieces of art from Los Angeles to Englewood, CO, and Sante Fe, New Mexico stayed at a hotel in Boulder. The next morning they discovered that the truck’s padlock had been cut. Five paintings, all by well-known American artists, were missing.
The paintings transported included an Elaine de Kooning, famous for her abstract portraits of President John F. Kennedy, a rural painting by Jane Freilicher, and three landscapes depicting the Taos and Laguna Pueblos by noted members of the Taos Society of Artists.
When Patrolman Patrick Meehan learned the artwork was in a Lakewood hotel room, coordinated by the Boulder Police Department with her Lakewood colleagues to seize her opportunity.
A search of the room resulted in the recovery of all stolen artwork still intact, as well as numerous other stolen items such as handguns and electronics. Officers also seized a large stash of drugs: nearly 2,000 fentanyl pills and 23 grams of methamphetamine.
The suspect has been identified as Brandon Camacho-Levine, 31, and has been charged with a number of counts totaling nearly 20.
The FBI also supported the investigation.
“This is a prime example of the great policing work our officers do every day in Boulder and I couldn’t be prouder of Officer Meehan, Patrol, the Special Enforcement Unit and our partners at the Lakewood Police Department. Not only have we recovered this work of art intact, but we have also taken these deadly drugs off the streets that are plaguing our community,” said Boulder Police Chief Maris Herold.
The Colorado couple’s art advisor, whose two paintings were stolen, expressed outrage at the turn of events.
“My reaction was anger. I was so upset that they were taken,” said Colleen Fanning. “We were shocked and appalled and had no idea that something like this could even happen.”
Boulder Police stated that the black market for stolen artwork isn’t as big as it used to be.