2 arrested over missing artwork
Police arrested a couple for questioning about several missing art pieces from a gallery at Aloha Tower Marketplace but released them pending further investigation.
The couple, Francis X. Blackwell Jr. and Ann W. Taylor, was house-sitting for a military couple at a home on Makahaiwaa Place in Kapolei on Monday when police arrested them.
The homeowner returned Monday, and friends picked her up at Honolulu Airport and showed her photos of Blackwell and Taylor that appeared in a newspaper article relating to the missing artwork. "She was totally shocked and called police," said Island Art Gallery owner Jeff Liu.
The couple worked at Liu's gallery at 1 Aloha Tower Drive for the past four years. Liu fired them on June 27 after they failed to provide paperwork or the artwork when Liu repeatedly asked for them.
Liu said he is grateful that the homeowner did the right thing and called police. At least police can ask them about the whereabouts of the artwork, he said.
Eight missing art pieces have yet to be located, said Michelle Yu, spokeswoman for the Honolulu Police Department.
Liu said he is confident that some will be recovered. Those who have the missing artwork should return it because it is stolen, he added.
Police released Blackwell, 59, yesterday, while Taylor, 58, was released Tuesday.
Police had said Blackwell, former gallery art director, falsely portrayed himself as the gallery owner when he sold three art pieces to a customer.
Fake invoices for the missing pieces were discovered after the customer reported that he did not receive one of the three pieces he purchased in December 2005.
Liu sent the customer the third art piece after his invoice indicated he purchased three while the invoice presented by Blackwell and Taylor, former gallery consultant, indicated only two pieces were sold.
Liu then conducted an inventory when he could not find eight pieces of artwork worth more than $50,000.
Some of the missing artwork include original oil paintings on canvas by Zhou Ling called "Blue Hair Wahine" and "Beloved," priced at $16,000 and $13,800, respectively.
Liu is offering a reward for the return for the missing artwork.