Sometimes our work results in the arrest of the perpetrator. This is the very sad case of Marcus Patmon.
Chris Marinello, acting on behalf of two different insurance companies and together with the FBI, the Palm Beach Police Department, and the Miami Police Department, recovered the stolen works.
From el Nuovo Herald in Miami (translated from Spanish) 20 September 2008 by ERIKA BERAS
Marcus Patmon moved to Little Havana in late 2006, shortly after being released from jail. He spent the nights at the Tower Hotel and days working at a local hardware store.
His time behind bars would remain a secret. But Patmon, 37, told anyone who wanted to hear stories of a much more enviable life.
With some he boasted of being a successful bond commissioner with a luxurious house in Pinecrest. With others he talked about saving money to buy land in the west. And to his employers, he told them he was a retired Marine who had just moved to Miami to re-join civilian life.
According to the researchers, the truth emerged last week when he turned himself in to Palm Beach police admitting to having stolen art galleries in Palm Beach and Washington DC
He was charged with theft of more than $ 100,000, in connection with the theft of two prints by Pablo Picasso Jacqueline Lisant and Le Repas Frugal from the Palm Beach Gallery. Together, the two works were valued at about $ 540,000. No charges have been filed yet regarding the thefts from Washington.
For now, Patmon is being held at the Palm Beach jail on $ 200,000 bail.
Those who know him describe him as an attractive and cultivated man who loves the good things in life, including works of art.
“He looked like a Marine, thin, in good shape, very clean,” said Andy Haase, who worked with him at Shell Lumber and Hardware in Little Havana in 2005.
He said that Patmon had told him that he had just retired from the Marines and that he was starting a new life in South Florida.
In fact, Patmon had received an honorable discharge from the armed forces in 2001, after an eight-year run, according to Lt. Patrick Boyce, a spokesman for the Marines.
He soon got into trouble. He was arrested in October 2001 in Hillsborough County on charges of robbery with assault.
Court records show that he was sentenced to 60 months in jail but was given parole and credit for having spent 201 days in jail. He was arrested seven times more between 2001 and 2006 for several crimes, including robbery.
In Miami, Patmon did not tell anyone that he had had problems with the law, not even the woman who would later become his wife.
He and Marcia Patmon met in late 2005. She said she was immediately attracted to his good presence and intelligence.
“I would open the door and he would tell me nice things,” Marcia Patmon told the Miami Herald.
But things changed. They fought frequently. He was fired from his job at a sawmill.
He did not seem to mind being unemployed, said Marcia Patmon. She continued working as a stewardess and paying the rent for him.
Pembroke Pines apartment rental -. He says that, more than once, Marcus Patmon emptied the bank account, physically abused her and kept her away from his family.
Over time, she filed charges against her, left her job and moved to a shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Patmon’s arrest took months, police said.
The investigation began with a robbery last December at the Lareuse Gallery, an art gallery in Washington.
According to the owner of the gallery, the thief broke a window of the gallery in Georgetown and took two works, a Picasso etching entitled Faune devoilant une Femme, valued at $ 90,000, and a 1960 color lithograph signed by Marc Chagall entitled The Meeting of Ruth and Boaz.
Police say Patmon sold Picasso for $ 58,000 to Catherine Burns, an art dealer in Oakland, California. It is not clear what happened to Chagall’s lithograph but police say it ended up in an art gallery in London.
Then, on May 22, there was another robbery. This time, at the Biba Gallery on Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. When police arrived he found a broken door on the side of the building, with “a section large enough to allow a person to creep in,” according to a police report.
The thief took two works by Picasso. One was a 1964 image of Jacqueline Lisant, Picasso’s second wife, reading a book. The other, Le Repas Frugal, was a famous painting from 1904 of a gaunt couple sitting at a table with bread and wine.
According to police, after the robbery, Patmon tried to sell Le Repas Frugal to Burns, the art dealer in Oakland.
According to police, this time, Burns suspected something strange. He later told police that Patmon had told him that he had inherited his grandfather’s artwork.
What Patmon did not know was that the engravings were listed as stolen in a database of stolen artwork.
When a picture is in that database, a thief finds it difficult to sell it.
“Most thieves are under the impression that if they spend some time they can sell stolen art and make some money,” said Christopher Marinello, a lawyer working on behalf of the insurer.
Good dealers and collectors are always going to do some due diligence before buying something. ”
That is precisely what Burns did when Patmon contacted her a second time. Upon seeing the pictures in the database, she checked with the owners of the Palm Beach gallery, who confirmed that the gallery had been the victim of a robbery.
She told Patmon that she would have to see the artwork before buying it. Patmon sent him Le Repas Frugal.
Investigators contacted Burns, who told them that he had bought an engraving of Picasso from Patmon a few months earlier. They confirmed his contact with Burns through telephone records.
A covert agent posing as an art dealer from Philadelphia contacted Patmon, saying he was interested in buying the same print. They discussed prices.
On September 5, the Florida Department of Police (FDLE) entered Patmon’s South Miami apartment where he was with a woman. He claimed that Burns had switched the engraving that he had sent with another stolen work.
Accused by the FDLE of trafficking in stolen property, he was arrested. He later left the Miami-Dade jail on $ 7,500 bail.
Days later, Patmon turned himself in to the Palm Beach police and, according to the investigators, confessed to having stolen works of art from art galleries in Palm Beach and Washington.
Unfortunately, for Patmon, this was not the end of the story:
A PBS-loving convicted art thief who drove from Miami to suburban Washington, D.C., to ask for a presidential pardon was in custody Wednesday after he was found to be driving a stolen car, police said.
Marcus Sanford Patmon, 45, of Miami, was arrested Sunday outside a Starbucks in Arlington, Virginia, after a police license plate reader indicated that his parked vehicle had been reported as stolen, police said.
Ashley Savage, a police spokeswoman, told NBC Washington on Wednesday that Patmon “wanted to meet with Eric Holder” because “he was looking to be pardoned by the Obama administration before the Trump administration came in.”
One problem (besides the stolen car): Eric Holder is no longer the attorney general. That would be Loretta Lynch.
Patmon remained in the Arlington County Jail on Wednesday on a charge of unauthorized use of a stolen vehicle, according to court records. No attorney of record was listed.
According to the FBI, Patmon pleaded guilty in 2009 to attempted wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property for trafficking in two stolen Pablo Picasso etchings and a stolen Marc Chagall lithograph — together worth well more than a half-million dollars.
According to federal court documents, a California art dealer to whom Patmon tried to sell the Picassos smelled something fishy and contacted authorities, and the FBI soon had an undercover agent on the case.
When authorities searched Patmon’s Miami home, they found one of the Picassos, a 1957 etching of a woman reading a book called “Jacqueline Lisant,” hidden behind the sofa. Patmon later confessed, according to an FBI affidavit.
Patmon served a little less than two years in prison and was released in 2012, federal records show.
Much of the court record remains sealed even today. But prosecutors have said Patmon told investigators he’d been inspired by an episode of the PBS series “Antiques Roadshow” to steal and resell art so he could resume the comfortable life he’d been living before he was convicted of assault in 2001.