Sean Scully in his Barcelona studio with the works Wall of light Pink Grey Sky, 2011, Red and Black, 2013 and Barcelona Red Black Pink, 2013. Photo: Nick Ballon Courtesy: Sean Scully

Former Studio Assistant Accused of Stealing Artist’s Works

A former assistant of painter Sean Scully has been arrested for allegedly stealing the artist’s works, Colin Moynihan of the New York Times reports. Arturo Rucci was arraigned in a Manhattan district court on Friday and was charged with criminal possession of stolen property.

Scully first alerted the police about the possible theft of his works after Bonhams contacted him about one of his pieces in early September. The auction house wanted the artist to confirm details about the painting before it went under the hammer in an upcoming auction. The piece looked similar to other works by Scully, but according to the artist, “the composition was off.”

Following an investigation, Scully suspects that Rucci took around half a million dollars worth of artworks from his Manhattan storage space. German-born Rucci worked for Scully from 2005 to 2010. After taking paid leave, he returned to Scully’s employment in 2011 but was dismissed that year. Rucci’s works have been shown at the Mixed Greens gallery in Chelsea.

The piece that Bonhams had contacted Scully about was described as a 1985 triptych of oil and linen canvases, measuring approximately twenty-eight by seventy-six by three inches each. One of the work’s stretcher bars was signed “Scully.” The artist told the New York Times, “Those were three small stolen fragments,” and that someone had “arranged them into a triptych and invented a provenance meant to fool Bonhams.”