Swindlers List

“Nine original Andy Warhol prints were quietly stolen from a Los Angeles movie business and replaced with fakes in an art heist that went undetected for years, police and court documents showed.... [T]he theft... was only discovered after one of the pieces was taken to be reframed. Staff at the framing firm noticed that the print was fuzzy and lacked a print number and signature. ‘Bald Eagle,’ one of the pilfered works, was sold by auction house Bonhams [in] 2011.” – “Thief replaced nine Warhol prints with fakes: Los Angeles police,” Reuters, September 10, 2015.

Burglar replaced five artwork frames with fakes: Los Angeles police
Five original oil paintings, including Andy Warhol’s “Campbell’s Soup Can,” were deftly lifted from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and then replaced in their original permanent display spaces, but in different frames. The switches were discovered by astute docents, who alerted LACMA exhibit curators, who concluded that the burglar has both good aesthetic sense and admirable technical skill.

Crook replaced two Streep Oscars with fakes: Los Angeles police
Two Award of Merit statuettes conferred by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Meryl Streep were surreptitiously purloined from the actress’s Brentwood home sometime after 2011, when Ms. Streep won her second Best Actress “Oscar” for The Iron Lady. That iconic mounted figure and the one she earned for Best Supporting Actress (Kramer vs. Kramer, 1979) were discovered—by a professional award polisher at a popular award-polishing service in Beverly Hills—to have been replaced with gold foil-wrapped chocolate replicas. Ms. Streep has confirmed to authorities that her authentic Sophie’s Choice (1982) Oscar remains in her possession, remarking, “That’s the one I like the most, anyway.”

Bandit replaced two lakes with nothing: Los Angeles police
Two lakes within the city limits—Baldwin Lake and Toluca Lake (1 acre and 4 acres, respectively)—were soundlessly removed from where they had formed naturally and been situated for hundreds, possibly thousands, and conceivably even millions of years and replaced with nothing. The thefts were discovered when authorities were tipped off to something amiss at both sites and then scientific analyses revealed that each localized basin in the earth contained many fewer actual water molecules than it previously had.

Aliens replace three Los Angeles police officers with fake Los Angeles police
Three distinguished members of the City of Los Angeles Police Department—Captain Martin Johnson, Detective Rachel Martinez, and Officer Paul Lee—were discreetly abducted and replaced by extraterrestrial visitors to our planet. The devious otherworldly masquerade was only recognized when the trio was presented with commendations (for their parts in a successful undercover operation to infiltrate a complex art theft ring) and the Chief of Police noticed that each of them offered him a slimy, green, suckered tentacle to shake rather than a human hand.

Supervillain replaced bald eagle with fake: Los Angeles police
An adult bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was quietly stolen from the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens and replaced with an item ($24.99 plus tax) quietly stolen at or about the same time from the institution’s gift shop. The thefts were discovered only when staff avian experts, concerned that one of their majestic specimens was not eating, flying, blinking, or otherwise moving at all, examined the bird and found that it was in fact made of plush and stuffed with a substance known to the State of California to be toxic.

Petty party criminal erased and replaced Warhol prints with own: Los Angeles police
An unknown number of Andy Warhol’s fingerprints were removed from a tumbler taken as a keepsake from a bohemian social gathering in 1964 at which he was a guest. The circumstance was discovered when Myra Frakes brought the glassware item to Bonhams for an appraisal. Staff at the auction house, after consulting with the LAPD and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, noticed that the distinctive impressions on the surface of the vessel lacked the iconic artist’s signature whorls and determined that Warhol’s prints had been replaced by Frakes’.

Matthew David Brozik wrote this and many other short humor pieces, which have been published in print and online by The New Yorker, Adult Swim, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Grin & Tonic, The Big Jewel, and no one.

Read more humor here. Or read some fiction here.