FBI seeks help to find stolen art

The Standard Journal - - ENTERTAINM­ENT - By Karen Matthews As­so­ci­ated Press

NEW YORK — The FBI is seek­ing the pub­lic’s help in round­ing up more than a half-mil­lion dol­lars’ worth of art­works that were stolen in 1983 from the New York City home of an artist known for his scenes of the Amer­i­can West.

The miss­ing art may be linked to a for­mer po­lice de­tec­tive whose 1985 killing was never solved.

The 91-year-old artist, Gregory Per­illo, said on Aug. 17 that the break-in at his Staten Is­land home was “heart­break­ing” and that he’d be happy to see the works re­cov­ered.

The 35 stolen paint­ings and sculp­tures de­picted Old West themes like stage­coaches and Na­tive Amer­i­cans in tra­di­tional dress.

Although he was born in New York City to Ital­ian im­mi­grant par­ents, Per­illo was in­ter­ested in Na­tive Amer­i­can his­tory and cul­ture from child­hood and used to draw pic­tures of na­tives on brown pa­per bags, he said. He has also painted sports fig­ures and a por­trait of Ron­ald and Nancy Rea­gan with their horse.

Per­illo’s paint­ings sell for up to $40,000 or $50,000, his son Stephen, who man­ages his fa­ther’s web­site, said.

Per­illo said he and his wife Mary came home from a week­end away in the sum­mer of 1983 to find the house ran­sacked and dozens of art­works gone.

Two pieces turned up at a Man­hat­tan gallery in 1985, the FBI said.

Agent Christo­pher McKeogh of the bureau’s art crime team said that an­other of the stolen pieces, a bronze sculp­ture of a na­tive on a horse, was re­cov­ered in 2011 from a garbage bin at a con­struc­tion site about a mile from Per­illo’s home.

The FBI is seek­ing the pub­lic’s help in re­cov­er­ing the other pieces be­cause who­ever owns the art­works may not re­al­ize the works were stolen, McKeogh said. “They could be hid­ing in plain sight,” McKeogh said. “They could be hang­ing on some­one’s wall in their liv­ing room.”

About a week be­fore the theft, McKeogh said, Per­illo got an un­so­licited visit from a man who said he was an NYPD de­tec­tive in­ter­ested in buy­ing some of Per­illo’s art.

Then in 1985, the body of a re­tired NYPD de­tec­tive was found. The man, whose killing was never solved, was in pos­ses­sion of images of some of the stolen works, McKeogh said.

An NYPD spokesman did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for in­for­ma­tion about the for­mer de­tec­tive.

Per­illo, who moved to Clear­wa­ter, Florida, last year and still paints every day, said that if the stolen art­works are re­cov­ered he’ll do­nate them to a good cause.

“My papa al­ways told me, ‘Gregory, when you have a ca­reer and you’re do­ing well, al­ways give back,’” he said.

‘They could be hid­ing in plain sight. They could be hang­ing on some­one’s wall in their liv­ing room.’

Christo­pher McKeogh FBI agent

/ FBI via AP

This work of art was stolen from the Staten Is­land, N.Y., home of artist Gregory Per­illo in 1983. The FBI is seek­ing the pub­lic’s help in round­ing up more than $500,000 worth of art­works by Per­illo, an artist know for his scenes of the Amer­i­can West.

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