Local art dealer fights international art crime:

La Jolla photography dealer and gallery owner Joseph Bellows intercepted a stolen piece of Czech art and turned it over to the Art Loss Register in London, the Union-Tribune’s Jim Chute reported.

Bellows was contacted by someone seeking to sell the piece, an important photograph by František Drtikol. Someone called Bellows, who buys and sells photos all over the world, earlier this month to see if he wanted to buy the piece.

He hoped it was the real thing. There can exist more than one of the same photograph. But when he researched it, he found out that Prague’s Museum of Decorative Arts had reported its photograph stolen.

“It’s one of the most valuable Czech photos ever made,” said Bellows Thursday. “It’s an icon of Czech photography.”

He convinced the caller to send it to him.

“After I found out that it was stolen, I kept up the charade so I could get the photograph sent to me,” Bellows told me when I chatted with him this afternoon.

He heard from the Czech police today, but he said he wished they would’ve been in touch sooner so they could catch the person who stole it.

“I could’ve gift wrapped this guy for them if they’d have contacted me, just like I practically gift-wrapped the photograph for them,” he said.

I’m the arts editor for VOSD. Please contact me directly at kelly.bennett@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.325.0531 and follow me on Twitter: @kellyrbennett.

Kelly Bennett

Kelly Bennett is a former staff writer for Voice of San Diego.

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