House painter allegedly took paintings from Long Island estate

May 7, 2013 at 11:10 AM

NEW YORK, May 7 (UPI) -- New York authorities charged a house painter with stealing a Picasso etching and other artwork valued at more than $100,000 from a Long Island couple.

Hannelore and Rudolph Schulhof had a 350-piece art collection that included works by Jasper Johns, Mark Rothko and Pablo Picasso at their estate at Kings Point, the Wall Street Journal reported.

House painter Joselito Vega, 52, of Easton, Pa., hired to repair flood damage to the house, is accused of stealing three paintings and selling one of them, "Le Fauteuill II" by French artist Jean DuBuffet, to a collector in San Francisco, said Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes.

The collector returned the painting when he learned it had been stolen but works by Frank Stella and Norman Lewis remain missing, the Journal said.

Hynes said Vega was indicted following a sting operation last week that involved placing hidden surveillance cameras in his work area.

An inventory of the Schulhof's art collection after Hannelore's death in February 2012 revealed that three paintings were missing.

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