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Art Thief Stole Warhols, Lichtensteins from Downtown Apartment

By DNAinfo Staff on December 23, 2010 8:14pm  | Updated on December 25, 2010 10:51am

By Amy Zimmer and Jennifer Glickel

DNAinfo staff

MEATPACKING DISTRICT – A thief who quickly became an art collector late last month after stealing nearly $1 million worth of artwork by world renowned painters such as Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol from a Greenwich Village apartment, is still on the run, police said.

Besides the stolen artwork — including Lichtenstein’s “Thinking Nude,” a set of eight signed Warhol prints from his “Camouflage” series and a Carl Fudge oil painting entitled “Live Cat,” among others — the thieves took expensive jewelry, watches, and, perhaps, most importantly, the video recorder that was attached to surveillance cameras inside the apartment.

The artwork belonged to beef heir Robert Romanoff, 49, president of the 105-year-old Nebraska Meat Corp., the New York Post reported, which estimated the loot from his home on Gansevoort Street was worth $750,000.

Robert Romanoff's mailbox at 53 Gansevoort St.
Robert Romanoff's mailbox at 53 Gansevoort St.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

The thief broke through a hallway wall to get into the apartment, police said. Romanoff was away on vacation at the time of the break-in, according to news reports. 

The theft shocked workers and neighbors nearby.

"The building is very secure," said Bobby, an employee at the La Gazzetta restaurant in the same building.

Romanoff, who owns the entire building, did not answer his phone or buzzer. The shades of his apartment were drawn on Friday.

The Romanoff family has made millions in real estate, the Daily News reported, selling the Nebraska Meat Corp. building on Washington Street for $18 million and one in Harlem for $7 million. The company and its sister, Nebraskaland, relocated operations to the Bronx and Newark. It has the nation’s largest market share of smoked meats, it Website said.  

Lois Teiche, a resident in the area for a decade, was surprised to hear of the crime, but not surprised that someone here had Warhols.

"It's not a neighborhood where crooks hang out on the streets except for pickpockets," she said. "It used to be transvestite prostitutes, but now it's classy."

Anyone with information regarding the burglary is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (800) 577-TIPS (8477). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto Crime Stoppers' website at www.nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to CRIMES (274637), then enter TIP577.