Man Attempting to Sell Stolen Wesselmann Caught By FBI

The stolen Wesselmann “Study of Monica Nude with Tulips,” and the head of her thief.

A man in Portland is accused of stealing a famous Wesselmann portrait from his mother and trying to sell it to an unnamed NY gallery. The mother had it removed from the wall in her condo during some construction and didn’t realize it was missing until she got a call from the FBI.

“Do you own a famous Tom Wesselmann painting, ma’am?” the no-nonsense agent asked. “Yes I do,” she replied, only to find it missing from her condo!

Tom Wesselmann was a painter, collagist and sculptor who created artwork that incorporated commonplace, real-world items with historical portraiture, often focusing on reclining female nudes. He is widely known for his canvas paintings as well as his silkscreen artwork.

A gallery official, upon inquiry,  told the man that the painting—a Liquitex study of “Monica Nude with Tulips”—was worth $95,000, but they would buy it for $60,000. He took the deal. The NY gallery grew a little suspicious when the would-be seller provided the address of a hotel for them to send an art shipping box for him to pack it into and ship back. The gallery got the painting, but when it came time to send his check, the poor fellow had gotten himself arrested for shoplifting at J.C. Penney’s! His girlfriend stepped in to continue the transaction and all the red flags went up.

The man is being accused of interstate transportation of stolen goods and fraud by wire.

His Mom said that when she heard from the FBI, she was shocked. “I didn’t know the piece was gone!” she said. She agreed to pursue prosecution because she believes her son is safer now that he’s off the street and not stealing famous Wesselmann’s!

Buy one of our famous Wesselmann’s, a signed and numbered silkscreen of “Monica Nude with Tulips” Just remember to keep an eye on it!

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