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Hot Chelsea Art Trend: Shoplifting

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Part of the team of thieves who grabbed Edvard Munch’s The Scream from an Oslo museum went to jail last week, but an art theft closer to home remains unsolved. On April 1, two men and a woman walked into the Casey Kaplan Gallery and walked out with a ten-inch tribal mask, made of used baseball skins, by artist Brian Jungen. “It’s a real loss of innocence for the gallery,” says Casey Kaplan, who’s since hired a security guard—a rarity at galleries smaller than Gagosian. “There’s a guard in Barbara Gladstone and Luhring Augustine now.” He’s heard that he’s not alone: A Raymond Pettibon and an Al Hansen were rumored to have been swiped from other galleries recently, too. The NYPD, FBI, and Art Loss Register have been informed, but according to Kaplan, the criminals (who were filmed by the surveillance system) “looked like everyday gallery visitors”—i.e., well-dressed, middle-aged white folks. “I don’t think these are people who go around to galleries and steal things; I think they just wanted it,” Kaplan says. “It’s a bit like The Thomas Crown Affair—someone has it on their mantel, for their own enjoyment.”


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