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Thieves rob R.I. mansion owned by N.Y. investor

NEWPORT, R.I. -- A mansion owned by New York art investor Ronald K. Parker was robbed by two armed men who handcuffed Parker and his companion and ordered them to lie face down on a bed while they ransacked the house, police said Wednesday.

The robbery occurred early Monday morning at The Orchard, a chateau- style mansion on Narragansett Avenue that Parker bought in 1989.

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He and his woman companion, whose identity was not released, told police they were awakened shortly before 3 a.m. by the culprits. Both wore stocking masks and apparently had handguns, said patrolman Michael McKenna, a spokesman for the department.

The thieves spent a few hours ransacking the house and took with them jewelry, cash and an undetermined number of art pieces, McKenna said. The value of the take was undetermined.

They got into the house through a first-floor window and left in Parker's Jaguar, which was recovered a few blocks from the house. Parker managed to call police after the robbers left, even though he was still handcuffed.

McKenna said investigators had few clues as to who was responsible for the robbery.

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Parker bought The Orchard at auction for $1.7 million. It had been owned by Freeman Dale Crabtree of Oklahoma City and his wife but they ran into financial problems with oil investments and went bankrupt.

The Crabtrees bought the 6-acre estate from Elizabeth Firestone, daughter-in-law of the founder of the Firestone Tire and Rubber Co.

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