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September 13, 2009

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Reward of US$1m for stolen Warhols

A UNIQUE series of Andy Warhol pieces - portraits of Muhammad Ali, Jack Nicklaus, Pele, Dorothy Hamill and other athletic superstars - has been stolen from a collector's home.

Los Angeles police said the collection of 10 silk screen paintings of famous athletes of the 1970s was taken from the home of businessman Richard Weisman sometime between September 2 and 3.

Weisman commissioned the iconic pop artist in 1977 to create the portraits, said Brenda Klippel, director of Martin Lawrence Galleries in Los Angeles, which has a large collection of Warhols.

A commissioned portrait of Weisman was also stolen, said detective Mark Sommer of the Los Angeles Police Department's art theft detail. A US$1 million reward was offered for information leading to the return of the paintings.

It wasn't clear exactly when the paintings were taken or how the thieves got into the home. The theft was discovered by the family's nanny who arrived at the house to find the large prints missing from the walls.

"The theft of Warhol's 'Athlete Series' represents a profoundly personal loss to me and my family," Weisman said in a statement.

Weisman published a book about his art collection called "From Picasso to Pop."

"Warhol was always a portraitist and fascinated with anyone of fame or fortune, anyone in the public eye," Klippel said. "If Weisman was in his circle and had the money, he could commission what he wanted."


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