Gallery Owner Chases Down Artful Dodger

Mar 5, 2014 2:10pm

A Brooklyn art gallery owner’s quick thinking and bold moves helped stop a thief running away with a painting valued at more than $10,000.

Sean Leonard, co-owner of Cotton Candy Machine gallery in Williamsburg, noticed three paintings by artist Amar Stewart were missing during a gallery event on Saturday evening. The heist took 15-20 seconds, but the ensuing chase, which was caught on camera, went far longer, gallery employees said.

“Sean had seen the back door leading to the alley was open and ran out there and looked for the guy for 20 minutes before he found him [talking] on his cellphone,” gallery employee Lyejm Kallas-Lewis told ABC News. “He grabbed the painting back, called 911, and chased him around the neighborhood, pulling him out of cabs and everything.”

 

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Sean Leonard, center, stand with cops and artist Amar Stewart, right. Courtesy: Courtesy Cotton Candy Machine Gallery

“I’m yelling at the cab driver while I’m on 911 and I’m like ‘you can’t take this guy anywhere’,” Leonard said.

Leonard managed to detain the suspect until police arrived and arrested the alleged thief, Louis Lassalle, 49. Authorities then posed to take a picture alongside Leonard and Stewart with the recovered painting depicting famed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Police charged Driggs with grand larceny and possession of stolen property, while authorities are still hunting for other suspects involved in the heist as well as the two other stolen pieces of art; portraits of Nelson Mandela and Snoopzilla. They are valued at $8,000 each.

Leonard was back working the gallery straight away after the painting was recovered.

“He’s very passionate about the artwork we show here and the artists we work with,” Kallas-Lewis said.

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