Details of the investigation into the 2013 theft of six works by New England artist N. C. Wyeth (father of the more-famous Andrew Wyeth), two of which have still not been recovered, were released at a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, NBC reports.
The FBI updated the public on the facts of the break-in at a collector’s apartment in Maine, and the full story sounds about as film-worthy as that of The Bling Ring. The six paintings, each worth an estimated $1-2 million, were stolen in June 2013, but the first breakthrough in the case occurred in November 2014, after a Texas state trooper pulled over Larry Estrella for speeding and noticed wrapped paintings in the backseat. The trooper, who only realized his mistake after letting him go, told authorities that Estrella mentioned he was driving to California.
FBI agents found him at a North Hollywood hotel and put him under surveillance, which led them to Dean Coroniti and his neighbor Oscar Roberts. (Here’s your angle, Nancy Jo Sales.) Roberts happened to be a cast member on a reality TV show about a hip-hop label, and on top of that, had pawned the paintings for $100,000 at the Beverly Hills Pawn Shop, the subject of yet another reality show on a local cable channel. A pretty meta crime, all in all.
Estrella, Coroniti, and Roberts have each been convicted on federal charges. The police were able to retrieve four of the Wyeths from the pawnshop, but two remain missing. The FBI has set a reward at $20,000, and asks that anyone with information call 1-800-CALL-FBI.