Art Heist at Taco Bell Stumps Police (artnet news)

Sarah Cascone, Tuesday, March 17, 2015 original article here.

The stolen Taco Bell painting.

The stolen Taco Bell painting. Artist unknown.

When burritos alone won’t satisfy your late-night drunken munchies, how about some art? That’s most likely exactly what happened at the Taco Bell in Westlake, Ohio, reports the local NBC news outlet, when someone made off with an acrylic painting this past weekend, sometime between 11 p.m. on Saturday and 2 a.m. on Sunday (see Stolen Picasso Seized in Newark Shipped as $37 Christmas Present).

“That place has had nothing but bad luck,” said Westlake police captain Guy Turner. “It’s caught fire, they had somebody crash into it and it caught fire. That place is kind of jinxed.”

While Captain Turner did not know the name of the artist behind the work, he said it was likely commissioned by the fast food franchise. A second copy of the painting was left behind by the thieves. Presumably, this was less of a high-tech, targeted Thomas Crowne Affair type of robbery than an impulsive, taco-and-beer-fueled crime of passion (see Stolen Sculpture Found in Toilet of Paris Museum).

“We’re going to search every dorm room and rumpus room in a ten mile radius,” he said, “round up the usual suspects.”

Believe it or not, the painting is reportedly worth $800—and considering the misguided enthusiasm for such oddities as Pizza Hut perfume, it’s not entirely inconceivable that some fast food aficionado might shell out that much for the work. More likely, however, whoever swiped the piece probably just wanted an ode to the home of “fourth meal” to hang on his or her wall.

Curious to know more about the painting and the artist, we called the Taco Bell.

“Do you know where the painting is or who has the painting?” said the unidentified young woman who answered the phone when we asked if she knew who the artist of the work was. “Do I need to trace this phone call?” She then referred us to the Westlake Police.

As far as outlandish art heists go, this one ranks right up there with the Oscar Murillo canvas someone grabbed off the floor of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (see Oscar Murillo Painting Goes Missing From MoMA—Was it Theft?), the time that drunkards stole sculptures from the Dale Chihuly exhibition at the Denver Botanic Gardens (see Dale Chihuly Artwork Thieves in Custody), and the also-intoxicated raid of a Fernandina Beach, Florida, art gallery by a duo from the US Navy (see Sailors Steal Art in Drunken Gallery Robbery).

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A New Documentary for the Forger Who Infiltrated America’s Art Museums (Hyperallergic)

by Allison Meier on September 26, 2014 original article here.

Mark Landis at home with recent forgeries is the subject of the Art and Craft documentary

Mark Landis at home with recent works (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

For three decades, Mark Landis quietly infiltrated art museums across the United States with donated forgeries, works he carefully copied himself from the whole of art history. Paul Signac, Pablo Picasso, Hans Holbein, less-known names like Louis Valtat — sometimes they even went on display in the galleries. A new documentary called Art and Craftreleased today in Los Angeles, tries to figure out what compels Landis, with a sympathetic portrait of a very curious character.

Mark Landis at home, showing off recent works. CHARACTER NAME: Mark Landis PHOTOGRAPHER: Sam Cullman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Mark Landis at home, showing off recent works (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Directors Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman discovered his story through a 2011 New York Times article, which wouldn’t have existed if not for a man named Matthew Leininger. While a registrar at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, he discovered works Landis was supposedly donating had already been given to other museums. As he dug deeper, he realized just how far the web of forgeries stretched.

The film, however, is much more interested in Landis, although Leininger gets some brooding screen time. It’s obvious the filmmakers were a bit enamored with this small man with his tinny voice, Ignatius Reilly-level confidence, and clever handiwork — employing coffee to stain cheap Hobby Lobby frames to an antique patina, using colored pencils to replicate a chalk drawing, even showing us step-by-step how to make a new Picasso out of a printed copy and some shellac.

It’s clear from the film that the Mississippi-based Landis, whose speech is often a string of old movie quotes, became obsessed with the attention of being a museum donor, and the scenes with his case worker and interviews on his mental health suggest some psychological roots.”I got addicted to being a philanthropist,” he says, noting that it was seldom he had people so nice to him. Yet he adds: “I didn’t do anything wrong or illegal.” And he didn’t, no money was traded, no financial harm that could be prosecuted was done, it was only the integrity of the museums which was marred.

That isn’t the focus of the film, however, nor the possible implications on art value, or the time wasted with his forgeries. Yet Landis is a fascinating figure to watch, as he impersonates a priest, even inviting the filmmakers to witness one of his blatant fake donations, supposedly in honor of a non-existent dead sister. And as an exploration of the value and authenticity of art, it is as good a lesson as any to not take anything at face value, including an otherwise nondescript man whose skilled work may be on wider display than the artists he copied.

Mark Landis at home and at work on a “Picasso”. CHARACTER NAME: Mark Landis PHOTOGRAPHER: Sam Cullman Courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories

Mark Landis at home and at work on a “Picasso” (photograph by Sam Cullman, courtesy of Oscilloscope Laboratories)

Art and Craft is released today in Los Angeles. A full list of screenings is online