The investigation of an alleged $80 million theft of a Harvard doctor’s art collection has taken yet another bizarre turn, with the Boston Globe now reporting that officials are looking into whether the doctor’s business partner is to blame.
The line of inquiry comes just two weeks after former Harvard Medical School instructor Ralph Kennaugh and his business partner Angelo B. Amadio said that $80 million worth of artwork was stolen from their home in California. Last week, investigators identified the alleged victims as possible suspects in the case, but last Friday, the Globe reported that Amadio may have stolen the art from Kennaugh, according to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office would not confirm this report when contacted.
During a press conference last week, Commander Mike Richards said that several of Amadio’s statements have been false and inconsistent. Amadio’s background has also come into question. Richards said that Amadio is “reportedly a venture capitalist,” and has “a number of scams related to him.”
The investigators have asked Kennaugh and Amadio to take polygraph tests but they have both declined, according to Richards.
“The bottom line is that this is a simple investigation that could have been made a lot easier with the cooperation of the victims,” Richards said at the press conference. “We’ve been blocked all the way on this thing.”
According to David St. John, the insurance consultant who was responsible for buying insurance for the artwork, Kennaugh and Amadio refused to take polygraph tests because they are part of a small corporation.
St. John would not reveal the names of the corporation’s members, but did say that because all members of the corporation would be required to take the test, and that because one member objected, neither Kennaugh nor Amadio would take the test.
Following the press conference last week, Kennaugh and Amadio indicated that they would be more cooperative, according to Richards. On Oct. 9, Kennaugh and Amadio released a document listing the artwork that had been stolen, but Richards said he could not verify the authenticity of the document.
St. John said that he has seen the artwork and believes the artwork to be real.
“[Kennaugh and Amadio] are not some blue collar people that have copies of Van Gogh on their wall like a motel,” he said.
On Oct. 6 Kennaugh and Amadio gave the police a typed-ransom note that they said they had found behind a painting that had not been stolen. Richards said that they have conducted full fingerprinting analysis of the note. Additionally, the police say they have determined that there was no entry at the alleged point of break in.
But St. John asserted the innocence of Kennaugh and Amadio and accused the police department for “incompetence” in the investigation process. St. John alleges that the police failed to fingerprint the apartment until four days after the theft was reported.
Richards said that the FBI and Interpol have been consulted on the case, but that the investigation is still being conducted by the Sheriff’s office.
“Why would [the Sheriff’s office] talk to the FBI if they believed the pieces didn’t exist?” St. John asked.
He later added, “The sheriff’s department is pulling up a smokescreen. They were caught with their britches down and now they are trying to cover it up by turning the blame on Kennaugh and Amadio.”
Both the Sheriff’s office and St. John agree that the case is complicated. “We feel manipulated,” Richards said.
But St. John said, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Or perhaps I should say something is rotten in the Monterey county.”