Missing art leads to fraud charge for St. Paul man

  • Article by: DAN BROWNING
  • Star Tribune
  • August 7, 2012 - 9:06 PM

A former management consultant to the Carter Center in Atlanta was charged Monday in St. Paul with insurance fraud related to his attempts to auction off artwork and other collectibles that he'd previously reported as stolen.

Jason W. Sheedy, 39, of St. Paul, filed a $274,905 insurance claim over art and other valuables that he reported as stolen in September 2007. He collected $254,832 in January 2008 from AXA Art Insurance Corp.

However, the insurer later documented that some of the works that he listed for sale on were the same ones it had insured. And in September 2011, an employee of the Art Loss Register notified law enforcement about those items. The organization specializes in deterring and investigating international art theft.

Federal prosecutors charged Sheedy with wire fraud in a "felony information" rather than through a grand jury indictment, a procedure that generally means a plea agreement has been reached. The document was made public Tuesday.

Among the items Sheedy reported stolen were three photos signed by former President Jimmy Carter and the Dalai Lama holding their respective Nobel Peace Prizes. He estimated on a police report that they were worth $20,500. Sheedy also reported as stolen works by Rembrandt, Salvador Dali and other noted artists.

Government agents armed with a federal search warrant found many of the pieces at his home in 2011. According to FBI special agent Amanda Knez, investigators learned that Sheedy listed six of the artworks on an Internet auction site, and that he'd pawned and redeemed some of the missing pieces several times before.

The Carter Center in Atlanta listed Sheedy, a management consultant, on its board of councilors at the time of the raid. He also was listed as a donor who gave between $25,000 and $99,999 to the center during 2008-2009.

Sheedy said in a Minneapolis police report that the theft occurred when he was moving from his St. Paul home to a Minneapolis condo. He said he had to park the moving van on the street because the condo wasn't ready, and that someone broke off the padlock and stole his belongings.

The missing works included "Robbers Inferno," a 24-inch wood engraving from Spanish surrealist Salvador Dali's "Divine Comedy" portfolio; eight works by Rembrandt: "Bust of a Man," "Christ and the Woman," "Landscape With Cow," "Self-Portrait," "Artist's Mother," "The Card Player," "The Golf Player" and "The Raising of Lazarus"; two works by Russian-born French artist and designer Erte (Romain de Tirtoff); two by Ukrainian-American artist Anatole Krasnyansky and two by American pop artist Peter Max.

Investigators searched Sheedy's home in the 1800 block of Feronia Avenue in St. Paul and found 22 works of art and historic items that had been reported missing.

Dan Browning • 612-673-4493

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