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Legal Action Considered In Art Heist Case

Legal Action Considered In Art Heist Case

Art Collection Allegedly Worth $80M

POSTED: 8:14 am PDT July 6, 2010
UPDATED: 8:20 am PDT July 7, 2010

Two individuals who allege they are the victims of a multimillion-dollar art heist that took place in Pebble Beach last year announced Tuesday that they have hired new lawyers in a claim against Monterey County and the sheriff’s department.
Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio are being represented by attorneys at The Law Offices of Christopher C. Cayce, a civil law firm in Monterey, in a claim against the county and sheriff’s department, according to an e-mail sent by Amadio to Action News.
Amadio said that he and Kennaugh have been working with the law firm for nearly six months.
Action News spoke with that attorney on Tuesday and he said no lawsuit has been filed.
A follow-up e-mail from Amadio was unclear and the attorney said he doesn’t know why he sent the e-mail in the morning. The attorney told Action News they have made progress in their efforts to prove that the artwork they claim was stolen actually existed and Amadio and Kennaugh were its owners.
They said they have new evidence; video of the paintings and what he called archival records they found in storage in other places around the country proving their case.
They will present that evidence in an examination with the Farmer’s Insurance Company on Wednesday.
Action News asked to see that evidence, but the attorney would not release it, at least not until the insurance examination is complete.
Amadio and Kennaugh said they were victims of a brazen art heist that took place at a Pebble Beach rental home last October.
The stolen collection — which includes works by Jackson Pollock, Rembrandt and Van Gogh — may be worth as much as $80 million.
Both Amadio and Kennaugh said they believe the heist was an inside job and done by a professional who had knowledge of what art was at the home.
Because of the lack of an insurance policy and proof of ownership of the paintings — proof Amadio said was stolen with the paintings — the sheriff’s department held a news conference in October where Richards said his department had not ruled out Amadio and Kennaugh, a former Harvard professor, as suspects.
Amadio and Kennaugh, meanwhile, had hired their own private investigators who are working on the case.
In December, the lawyer for Amadio and Kennaugh dropped her clients, citing a conflict of interest.
Vicki St. John said she dropped Dr. Ralph Kennaugh and A. Benjamin Amadio as clients since she can be considered a witness because her name appeared on a memo written by Amadio that makes claims and charges against the Monterey County District Attorney and Monterey County Sheriff’s Department.
“I want it to be known that I had no part in this train wreck,” St. John told Action News.
In the e-mail sent to Action News on Tuesday, Amadio said all questions in the case should be directed to their attorneys.
As for the investigation into the art theft, sheriff’s investigators said they haven’t seen any new evidence which left them with their original question: did the artwork ever exist, and was there even a crime?
So far, the sheriff’s department has sent nothing to the district attorney’s office which would be necessary before any charges could be filed against anybody.

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