FBI working with police to recover stolen Picasso; reward could soon be offered

MILWAUKEE — The FBI is now involved in the investigation into a rare Picasso, stolen in Milwaukee, and we could soon learn of a reward offered in the case.

Michael Goforth, the co-owner of DeLind Fine Art Appraisals near Jefferson and Mason said Sunday, Feb. 25 the FBI is working with Milwaukee police, and officials are discussing the idea of potentially offering a reward. Police confirmed that they and the FBI are working together in this case.

Picasso print stolen from Milwaukee art gallery

The Picasso print, dubbed ‘Torero’ was lifted from DeLind Fine Art Appraisals, where it was on display, on Feb. 16. It’s one of 30 originally produced by the artist, making it both rare and valuable.

“It’s very disturbing to the art community,” said Leigh Mahlik, curator of UWM Art Collection and Galleries.

Bill DeLind, an art appraiser, was selling the Picasso for a client. He said he was upstairs, and when he returned to the first floor, he noticed the artwork was gone.

“As a person who runs a gallery, it’s incredibly sad to hear that the trust that comes into play with opening the doors to allow people to come and experience art, that that trust was violated,” Mahlik said. “For Picasso, he made these plates himself, so this is a very time-consuming process.”

The technique is called sugar lift aquatint.

Picasso print stolen from Milwaukee art gallery

“Aquatint offers the artist the opportunity to give an overall tonal quality to a piece,” Mahlik said.

Leigh Mahlik, curator of UWM Art Collection and Galleries

It is a careful and intricate method.

“If you do one step out of order or one step doesn’t quite go right, that plate will not produce the image you’re hoping for,” Mahlik said.

It is one reason this carefully-crafted Picasso is so extraordinary.

“What I can say is, there’s only 30 of them, so because there’s only 30, it inherently becomes rare. Art objects are rare,” Mahlik said. “It’s incredibly sad to see another piece go missing.”

Picasso print stolen from Milwaukee art gallery

DeLind estimates the 1949 print, signed by the artist in green crayon, is worth up to $50,000. His client, who owns the piece, wants to remain anonymous.

DeLind says he does not have security cameras in or outside of his store. Milwaukee police tell us a report was filed for the stolen print. They are still looking for the person responsible. If you have information that could help investigators solve this case, you’re urged to call MPD’s non-emergency number at 414-933-4444.

Picasso print stolen from Milwaukee art gallery