ORIGINAL DISNEY ARTWORK STOLEN IN 1991 RECOVERED IN FLORIDA
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 4, 2008
Contact: Sgt. Terence Wilson
Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory J. Austin announced today that two pieces of original Disney artwork reported stolen on March 3, 1991 from the Museum of Cartoon Art in the Village of Rye Brook were located on October 30, 2007 outside Hollywood, Florida.
The artwork was purchased by Bill Tirrell an independent dealer of antiques from New Smyrna Beach, Florida from Patricia LeBlanc another antiques dealer in a neighboring Florida community in October, 2007.
Patricia LeBlanc purchased the artwork several months earlier as part of an assorted collection of unwanted property which was being held in a storage facility in Florida.
Patricia LeBlanc not knowing that the artwork was stolen, sold it to Mr. Tirrell for an undisclosed amount of money. After purchasing the artwork Mr. Tirrell began to research the artwork’s origin and discovered that they were possibly part of the Disney artwork stolen in 1991.
Mr. Tirrell contacted Sgt. Terence Wilson of the Rye Brook Police Department who arranged to have the artwork authenticated and returned to the owner.
The artwork was on loan from the private archive in Northern California known as the Glad Family Trust Collection and was to part of a “Fantasia Exhibition” which was to open on March 10, 1991 at the Museum of Cartoon Art in Rye Brook, N.Y.
The two pieces of artwork that were recovered are a 4½” X 13” watercolor painting of Mickey Mouse motioning to a broom from the Sorcerer’s Apprentice segment of Fantasia and a 3¼” 18½” water color painting by Artist John Hubley of Mickey Mouse as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice standing above a waterfall.
Both pieces at the time they were stolen had an estimated combined value of $60,000 to $80,000. Mr. Peter Merolo of Sedona, Arizona considered one of the top experts in this type of artwork authenticated both pieces as part of the stolen Fantasia Collection. Mr. Merolo served as a member of the Board of Directors for the Museum of Cartoon Art when it relocated from Rye Brook, NY to Boca Raton, Florida in 1993.
“We are pleased that part of this collection has been recovered, hopefully the remaining three pieces can be found” said Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory J. Austin.
Great American Insurance Company located in Cincinnati, OH paid the Glad Family Trust $120,500 for all five pieces of artwork at the time of the theft and were the legal owners. Mr. Merolo purchased the two recovered pieces of artwork from Great American Insurance Company. Also, at the time of the theft a $5,000 reward was offered, Mr. Merolo and the Great American Insurance Company agreed to honor the reward to Mr.Tirrell.
The Rye Brook Police Detective Division are continuing the investigation to locate the remaining three pieces of artwork as well as developing any further leads to who may be responsible for this theft.
Still missing is a celluloid of Mickey as the Sorcerer’s Apprentice with a master painted background, size 6 1/2 “ X 9 ½“ and a pencil drawing caricature of animator Bill Tytla as the devil from the Night on Bald Mountain sequence of “Fantasia” by artist Alex Ignatier, size 10” X 12”. Any information on the third missing piece of artwork is unavailable.