The Daily News profiles Detective Mark Fishstein, the NYPD’s art theft detective, who got the job because of his art expertise initially on display as a patrolman when he spotted a overlooked Picasso in a dead woman’s apartment. His experiences further show the nature of art theft as a crime of opportunity by ordinary criminals, not underworld kingpins:
In 2009, he helped recover two landscape paintings by Russian artist Nicholas Roerich that are valued at $30,000. The pieces were lifted from an upper West Side museum. Tips led him to a Brighton Beach couple trying to sell the paintings to support their drug habit.
In 2008, Fishstein gave another couple their 15 minutes of fame when he arrested them for trying to steal a $100,000 Andy Warhol screen print of former Chinese leader Mao Zedong from a frame store.
He also foiled a London man’s attempt to sell a stolen first-edition copy of “Casino Royale” worth $20,000 to a rare-books dealer in Manhattan. The recovery of the James Bond novel led to a larger investigation of a robbery ring that preyed on jewelry couriers in England.