U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Delahanty II of the District of Maine announced today that Lawrence Estrella, 65, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court by Judge George Z. Singal of the District of Maine to 92 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release for interstate transportation of stolen property. Estrella pleaded guilty on Feb. 20, 2015.
According to court records and information from the sentencing hearing, in May 2013, six N.C. Wyeth paintings were stolen from a residence in Portland, Maine. In November 2014, Estrella transported four of the six stolen paintings to California in an effort to sell them. Law enforcement officers in California located his vehicle in the parking lot of a hotel in North Hollywood, California. Estrella’s room at the hotel was searched and a firearm was located, but no paintings were found.
On Dec. 19, 2014, law enforcement officers recovered the four stolen paintings from a pawn shop in Beverly Hills, California. The four recovered paintings are titled, “At a touch from Michael’s knife,” “The Unwrit Dogma,” “The Duel” and “John Brimblecombe.” The four recovered paintings are worth more than $1 million. Oscar Roberts, the man who used the stolen paintings to secure a loan from the Beverly Hills pawn shop, was prosecuted in the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California and was sentenced to 28 months in prison.
The remaining two stolen paintings, “The Encounter on Freshwater Cliff” and “Go, Dutton, and that right speedily,” have not yet been recovered.
This case results from a joint investigation conducted by the FBI’s Portland and Los Angeles offices, the Portland Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department.