Museum Security Network

Kurt Lidtke, Ex-Art Dealer, Facing Five Years For Conspiracy to Steal $500,000 in Art Works – Seattle News – The Daily Weekly

Kurt Lidtke, Ex-Art Dealer, Facing Five Years For Conspiracy to Steal $500,000 in Art Works – Seattle News – The Daily Weekly.

Federal prosecutors are asking that Seattle art dealer-turned art
thief Kurt (Bulletproof) Lidtke be sent to prison for five years after
he pleaded guilty last year to masterminding what the U.S. Attorney’s
office calls a potential half-million-dollars in art thefts. He is to
be sentenced Friday for conspiracy and transporting stolen property
and prosecutors think he should be imprisoned beyond a standard range
of 48 months because the art he stole or planned to steal from six
Seattle collectors was so valuable. Lidtke is asking he be given less
than three years, however, objecting to a penalty for future crimes
and noting he’s addicted to cough syrup – once a four-bottle a day
habit.
Lidtke has admitted his role in burglarizing a Seattle home in
November 2009 of 13 paintings and a sculpture. The victim, ID’d only
as D.B., was paid $152,000 by her insurer for the loss, which included
two paintings by Morris Graves and one by Mark Tobey.

All of D.B.’s stolen works were recovered except for a painting by
modernist Fay Chong, valued at $75,000. Lidtke has promised to repay
that loss after he’s released from prison.

Court records referring to the victim are sealed, as are the names of
five other Seattle art collectors who were being targeted. Lidtke
hoped to steal at least $400,000 in art works from one of the targets,
whose total collection is valued at more than $1 million, says the
FBI.

The D.B. heist was done by Lidtke’s go-to guy, ex-prison cellmate
Jerry Christy, who is also facing sentencing. Lidtke, with his
experience as a Seattle gallery owner, picked the residences and
Christy did the grunt work. At the time in 2009, Lidtke was just
finishing up a three-year stretch for nine counts of first-degree
theft, having stolen $435,000 in receipts from the sale of paintings
consigned at his once-popular Pioneer Square art gallery in 2007. But,
say prosecutors in a sentencing memoradum:

Unlike his prior offense, which involved simply selling art in his
custody and pocketing proceeds to which he was not entitled, Lidtke
put his knowledge of the art world to ill use by orchestrating
burglaries of…priceless art, and often of collections that the
owners likely had devoted their lives to assembling. Moreover, these
were crimes committed by a person whom the victims had trusted. For
example, D.B. had invited Lidtke into her home to appraise her art
collection. Similarly, other victims and potential victims had
purchased art from Lidtke and allowed him to visit their homes.
Moreover, prosecutors add, Lidtke’s attitude was “entirely cavalier.”
Rather than accept responsibility for his actions, “Lidtke flippantly
chose to blame the Department of Corrections for housing him with
Christy.”

In his sentencing memo, Lidtke’s attorney minimizes his client’s role
and says an extended sentence based on planned crimes is unwarranted.
He notes that the actual thefts were handled by Christy and his wife
Georgia, who was also charged. A 31-month sentence would be
appropriate, writes attorney Ralph Hurvitz, because of Lidtke’s drug
abuse.

“The downward spiral for Mr. Lidtke began with his increasing use of,
and subsequent addiction to, cough syrup. His brand of choice was
Robitussen. He began drinking cough syrup in 2003. By the time of his
arrest, his consumption level was between
three and four bottles per day. Even though he had inpatient treatment
at Sundown M Ranch in 2007, he neglected outpatient follow up. He
realizes that this was a mistake. One impact of the addiction is the
inability to connect his actions with their consequences. Mr. Lidtke
hopes to participate in the Residential Drug Abuse Program within the
Bureau of Prisons to address his addiction.”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: