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2 'Blue Dog' paintings recovered; police search for art thief

2 ‘Blue Dog’ paintings recovered; police search for art thief
http://www.wwltv.com/news/crime/2-Blue-Dog-paintings-recovered-police-search-for-art-thief-96940719.html

by WWLTV.com
Posted on June 22, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Updated yesterday at 10:34 PM

NEW ORLEANS – Police have recovered two Blue Dog paintings and are now looking for a suspect who allegedly took them from George Rodrigue’s gallery.

Less than 24 hours after airing footage of the thief on television, police displayed the two paintings, which are valued at over $30,000, at the 8th District station.

Anonymous tips, Monday evening and Tuesday, led police to the paintings in an old abandoned shed on North Broad Street.

Police have identified Lee Szakats as the suspected thief. The paintings were taken Friday afternoon.

The two stolen paintings are part of a three-painting series called “Three Coins in a Fountain.”

The three paintings are meant to hang together, and are valued at $55,000 for the series.

The thief was captured on surveillance tape strolling down Royal Street and into Rodrigue’s gallery.

“Either he wasn’t aware of the cameras, or he didn’t care about the cameras,” said Rodrigue. “He didn’t disguise himself and he just walked right in front of the three cameras.”

The suspect on the tape went to the back of the gallery, opened a door marked “Private” and looked inside. With the back of the gallery unoccupied, the man walked to the side wall, out of range of cameras, and put two of the paintings in his bag.

Anyone with information is asked to call Det. Hillman at the 8th District station at 658-6080.

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