Bloomberg Markets magazine profiles collector Jeffrey Gundlach who was instrumental in recovering his own art works recently. How did he do it? by heightening the expectations of the thieves, then smoking them out:
In mid-September, thieves robbed the money manager’s Santa Monica home in a quiet residential neighborhood, taking more than $10 million in artworks as well as his red 2010 Porsche Carrera 4S, wine and watches. The robbers also snatched two works by Gundlach’s late grandmother, Helen Fuchs, who was an amateur painter.
The money manager first offered $200,000 for tips leading to the recovery of his art and days later boosted the reward to $1.7 million. Santa Monica Police Department Sergeant Richard Lewis says the large sum of money was key to cracking the case, which the Federal Bureau of Investigation assisted on.
In late September, two suspects were arrested and all of the stolen art was recovered.
The cerebral Gundlach also gave investigators a tip for solving the crime. He says that while he was at home in his family room, it dawned on him that thieves would do a Google search using his grandmother’s name to find out more about the paintings and how much they might be worth.
Gundlach told the authorities that they should check the Internet to see who might have googled the name Helen Fuchs. He says exactly two such searches were executed: one by him and one by the thieves.
Gundlach says his Internet idea impressed investigators. “The FBI,” he says, “thought it was brilliant.”
This story would be a bit more believable if Helen Fuchs weren’t such a common-sounding name. A Google search of ‘Helen Fuchs’ generates 3.2m results and a number of living Helen Fuchs. The rewards probably did help recover Gundlach’s Mondrian but it seems hard to swallow this version of events.