Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Alert on Missing/Stolen BenCab Paintings

Note: I'm posting this information for everyone who may know something regarding the whereabouts of the 2 paintings of our National Artist for Painting, Ben Cabrera. This is also to alert artists to be more careful in sending paintings thru courier.

ALERT ON MISSING/STOLEN BENCABS: An Open Letter from National Artist Ben Cabrera (via Pananaw ng Sining Bayan, Inc.)

Two BenCab paintings have gone missing in transit from Los Angeles to Singapore.

Three Women
29.5 x 40 in
Acrylic on Canvas

Acrylic on Canvas
48 x 48 in

Attached is a letter from Susan Baik, part-owner of the AndrewShire Gallery in Los Angeles where the two paintings were exhibited last year as part of a three-man exhibition.

The letter details the circumstances of the disappearance of the two paintings while under the care of FedEx. From the looks of it, Susan is now certain that it is a case of theft.

We are sending out this alert to warn you not to purchase these paintings if offered to you & to please let us know immediately if you hear anything about these paintings.

Please forward this email to anyone else who you think might come across these paintings.

Thank you for your kind attention & cooperation,

Ben and Annie Cabrera


March 8, 2010

Dear Ben,
I cannot even start to tell you how genuinely sorry and mortified I am to be writing you this letter.

After two weeks of back and forth, I finally received notification from Fed Ex, instructing AndrewShire Gallery to formally proceed with a claim against the company, since they had failed to locate the two paintings that were shipped via Fed Ex from the Gallery in Los Angeles, to Singapore.

The irony of course is that Fed Ex picked up the paintings, carefully wrapped and package-sealed in a tube, at the Gallery in Los Angeles on February 26, and delivered an empty tube to me in Singapore on March 8, with the cover having been carefully sawn off, but with my address and details clearly stamped on the tube.

I have already filed a police report in Singapore, and it is my earnest hope that their investigation will reveal the details that Fed Ex is withholding from me –
  1. How is it that an empty tube passes muster with customs in Singapore without a record?
  2. If the tube was picked up from the Gallery with its cover sawn off, clearly empty, would not Fed Ex in Los Angeles have recorded the incident, and probably refuse to ship the item?
  3. If an empty tube arrived in Singapore with its top sawn off, but with my address clearly on the tube, why did the local agents not contact me at all?
  4. Further, did the empty tube not trigger any concerns on the part of the local agents with regards to potential theft?
  5. Why does Fed Ex refuse to share with me the results of their ostensibly having studied their surveillance tapes at their Singapore warehouse, the names of the individuals who would have potentially handled the tube, and their internal correspondence on the case?
As frustrated and angry as I am at the turn of events, and despite the hours of anguished “how’s” and “why’s” I have subjected myself to, I have to now accept that the paintings have been stolen – not just misplaced.

What now?

  1. The Gallery has filed a claim with Fed Ex in Los Angeles as they instructed us to.
  2. I continue to follow-up, daily, with the police in Singapore, and will keep you updated on any information they share with me with regards to their investigations.
  3. I am seriously exploring our legal options, both in Los Angeles as well as in Singapore.
  1. I have sent out formal notifications to the local and international auction houses informing them about the theft, together with a clear description and images of the two paintings, and have requested them to please keep an eye open for any suspicious activity.
  2. We have informed our insurance company of the incident, and the sequence of events, and I will keep you updated on their investigations, and any decision they make on our claim.
I would also like to send out to your collectors, a copy of this letter, making them aware of the stolen paintings.

Ben, the paintings were lost on our watch, and I feel absolutely terrible. In all the years that we have shipped art across continents, we have never had something like this happen to us. Fed Ex has always been entirely reliable with their collection and delivery schedules, and the risk of blatant theft from a secured facility, honestly, never seriously crossed our minds.

From the bottom of my heart, I am truly so sorry.

I look forward to talking to you soon,

Warm Regards,

Susan Baik

Fed Ex airway bill # 8578 8828 6230

Singapore Police Report # E/20100227/2062

(1) Three Women, 2009. Acrylic on Canvas.  29.5 x 40 in

(2) Twins, 2008. Acrylic on Canvas. 48 x 48 in.

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