Date: Nov 13, 2003
Press Release Number: 148-2003
The Port Authority Police today announced the arrest of two Worldwide Cargo Services employees for the theft of a painting valued at $1.5 million from a cargo area at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The painting, “Painter’s Garden” by artist Lucian Freud, was en route from London to a Manhattan art gallery.
The painting was reported missing by a United Airlines cargo employee Tuesday evening. Port Authority Police surveillance revealed that two Worldwide Cargo Services employees collaborated on the theft.
Upon questioning the two suspects, Port Authority Police ascertained that the painting was taken to the backyard of an abandoned home on 169th Street in Jamaica. The painting was recovered Wednesday night.
The suspects, Kirt Garvey, 19, of Jamaica, Queens, and Rajmohan Autar, 29, of Queens Village, are in custody. In cooperation with Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown, the two suspects have been charged with grand larceny in the first degree and possession of stolen property in the first degree.
Port Authority Director of Public Safety Charles D. De Rienzo said, “Due to the assistance of alert United Airlines employees and excellent work by Port Authority Police, we were able to apprehend these suspects and recover this valuable piece of art. Cargo theft is a serious crime and theft by employees of companies serving the airport is especially egregious. Working with the Queens District Attorney’s office these crimes will be aggressively prosecuted.”
Queens District Attorney Brown said, “Our airports here in Queens County are the gateway to the entire New York Metropolitan area. They are important worldwide arrival and departure points for both passengers and air cargo shipments that often include valued works of art. The safety and security of those passengers and that cargo is of paramount concern to us and surveillance by law enforcement is constant. In this case that surveillance paid off big time. An important work of art valued at over $1.5 million has been recovered.”
The investigation was conducted by Port Authority Police Detective Lieutenant William Hanley, Detective Sergeant Boris Perdomo, Detectives Joseph Rullo and William Kehoe and Police Officer Steven Bishop under the supervision of Inspector George Albin and the overall supervision of Deputy Chief Robert Caron.
Assistant District Attorney Andrew Kaufman of the District Attorney\'s Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau is prosecuting the case under the supervision of Assistant District Attorneys Gerard A. Brave, Chief, and Marc P. Resnick, Deputy Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney for Investigations Peter A. Crusco and Assistant District Attorney Linda M. Cantoni, Counsel to the Investigations Division.
It should be noted that criminal charges are merely an accusation and that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates some of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; the George Washington Bridge; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH rapid-transit system; the Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.