16-Year-Old Art Thief Gets Rich Hustling the Art World
When you think of the type of man who's able to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of art, your mind can't help but Hollywoodize him. You tend to picture a sophisticated thief, very Pierce Brosnan-like in the looks department, with all the high-tech equipment his bored playboy lifestyle can afford him. The type of guy who can sneak past an elaborate laser-based security system without wrinkling his suit. But life doesn't always imitate art, as proven by the strange case of 16-year-old Laurence McCall.
Ironically, all of his pictures have been stolen, so here's one of Pierce Brosnan.
Like some kind of supernerd, McCall enjoyed skipping school in favor of hanging out at museums, enthralled by the artwork he was able to admire for hours on end each day. In fact, he was such a big fan of paintings that one day he decided he'd steal one for himself. And then another. And then another. All told, he took more than 20 paintings, worth well over $300,000. He was able to do this with the type of elaborate plan that's normally only reserved for garden-variety shoplifters: He simply took the paintings off the wall and gently slid them out a window. Seriously.
Hey, say what you will about the kid's lack of originality -- he more than made up for it in balls-out not-giving-a-shit. Now that McCall had all that art, he needed a way to profit from it -- it's not like a teenager can waltz into a pawn shop with a rare painting without prompting a call to the cops. So instead, this teenager casually telephoned New York City auction house Sotheby's and asked if they would auction the paintings for him. Because asking questions is something that only the unsophisticated partake in, Sotheby's agreed with no delay.
"You look like a nice, trustworthy teenager just selling his personal collection of priceless artwork."
With his profits, McCall started living the '70s pimp life. At 16, he had a luxury apartment in Philly, bought himself a green Jaguar and decked himself out in fine jewels.