The criminal bar must be proud. Robert Mardirosian, a retired criminal lawyer who is already serving time for possession and transport of stolen paintings, is ordered to pay over $3 million towards costs paintings’ owner incurred, recovering his stolen works.
The Art Loss Register (ALR), London-based world’s largest private database of lost and stolen art, helped to recover the paintings and damages on behalf of M. Bakwin whose home was broken into and burgled in 1978. Bakwin lost about $30 million worth of artwork. Suspicion fell to David Colvin, who left the paintings with Mardirosian, his lawyer on an unrelated gun charge. Colvin was murdered in 1979, but Mardirosian sent the paintings to Switzerland for storage, surely to protect his client. In 1999, for the same reason no doubt, Mardirosian attempted to sell the paintings using a Swiss lawyer and a Panamanian shell company. Unable to sell the works Mardirosian then attempted to collect $15 million from the Bakwin family who turned to ALR instead.
ALR worked with the FBI and Swiss Police to recover stolen paintings, including works by Cezanne, Soutine, Utrillo and Vlaminck. Mardirosian was convicted in 2008, his lawyer argued that he only wished to claim the reward and not extort money from the theft victim. In 2011, he was found responsible for the costs associated with the recovery efforts. According to Julian Radcliffe, the Chairman of the ALR “Anyone including lawyers, who think that they can obtain rewards for the return of stolen art without providing full information on who had them and why, should be prosecuted.”
Source: Art Loss Register Newsletter.