The former owner of an art gallery on Washington Boulevard in the Mar Vista area was sentenced last month to 275 days in Los Angeles County Jail for the theft of artworks valued at more than $295,000, police said.
Kajorn Lekhakul Howard, 68, of Los Angeles, who previously owned the Images of East and West gallery at 12627 W. Washington Blvd., was arrested in Texas in February and extradited to Los Angeles, police said.
Howard had fled Los Angeles in September 2002, taking with her art property of more than 45 artists and customers, said detective Stephanie Lazarus of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Art Theft Detail.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office filed multiple counts of grand theft and conspiracy against Howard and a warrant for her arrest was issued.
She was arrested during a routine traffic stop in Seagoville, Texas, where she was living with Louis Bell, Lazarus said. Bell was also arrested and extradited to Los Angeles.
Art theft detectives recovered over 290 stolen items, primarily Asian artworks such as Japanese wood pieces, paintings and drawings, from storage locations in the Dallas area, Lazarus said.
Detectives transported the art back to Los Angeles and are asking people who believe they are a victim of art theft by Howard to claim their property, she said. Some victims have already been contacted to retrieve their art.
“We know there are still victims out there who haven’t contacted us and we have artwork we would like to give back to them,” Lazarus said.
Detectives said Howard posed as a legitimate dealer at the Images of East and West gallery, which specialized in Asian art.
She engaged in a “persistent pattern of deceit, embezzlement and fraud and lured people into entrusting her with their art and money,” detectives alleged.
Howard pleaded guilty to the charges last month and was sentenced to county jail, Lazarus said. The terms of the sentence also included probation and restitution, she said.
Anyone with additional information regarding this case is asked to contact LAPD Art Theft Detail detectives Hrycyk or Lazarus at (213) 485-2524, or the 24-hour toll free number at (877) 529-3855.