Charleston artist says police recovered 3 stolen paintings

Police charge man for stealing several paintings at downtown library
Spiral Galaxy. The art piece that was stolen Friday morning. (Photo:
Spiral Galaxy. The art piece that was stolen Friday morning. (Photo:
Eagle Nebula (Photo:
Eagle Nebula (Photo:
Flame Nebula (Photo:
Flame Nebula (Photo:
Pleiades (Photo:
Pleiades (Photo:

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A local artist says three stolen paintings recovered by the Charleston Police Department on Friday are hers.

Alizey Khan said investigators told her that three paintings recovered from a business on Reid Street were her Spiral Galaxy, Eagle Nebula and Pleiades paintings. Another of Khan's works, Flame Nebula, is still missing.

CPD investigators arrested 57-year-old Robert Wayne Russell and charged him with grand larceny in connection to seven paintings that were stolen from the Charleston County Public Library last week. Authorities arrested Russell at 4 p.m. on Friday an hour following a press conference at the library concerning the theft of the paintings.

Russell's arrest stems from investigators showing a picture of the suspect to business owners in the area. According to police, a Reid Street business owner recognized the man and said he had purchased three of the paintings, but didn't know the paintings had been stolen.

Investigators say seven paintings were stolen between July 30 and Aug. 2 from the Saul Alexander Gallery. Video surveillance showed a man with a backpack walking into the gallery, then grabbing three paintings and quickly leaving.

Charleston police say they have recovered three paintings and are trying to locate the other paintings. An incident report states three paintings were stolen on July 30, three on Aug. 1 and one on Aug. 2 Police say the paintings have a total value of $5,285.

Artist Alizey Khan said someone stole an art piece Friday morning that was displayed at the library. It was the fourth painting by Khan that was stolen this week.

"They came back a second time which really makes me think that they were targeting my work," said Khan.

At a press conference held Friday afternoon, officials said the thefts were made in the lobby and the gallery. They also said changes will be made following the painting thefts, and security will be increased.

On Wednesday at 2:36 p.m., officers responded to the Charleston County Public Library at 68 Calhoun Street in reference to a theft. Officers spoke with Khan who said three of her paintings were missing.

The library manager told investigators that a man was seen on camera walking in the room and taking three of the paintings, then leaving the area quickly.

According to Khan, the three paintings stolen were the Eagle Nebula, Flame Nebula and Pleiades, all of which are pictured above.

"All the pieces were painted in my layered resin technique, and therefore each took weeks to complete," Khan said in a post on her website." I feel a bit violated, to be honest, especially since the three stolen pieces were the ones I was proudest of in the whole exhibition."

At Fridays presser, Kahn said she hopes "one bad apple" doesn't ruin things for everyone, and paintings should still be displayed.

Sherry Browne's painting was also one of the seven stolen from library. She hopes when the gallery reopens, the paintings will be more secure.

"Somehow make the pieces stay on the wall," said Browne. "Tie them up. Screw them down."

According to court records Russell was just arrested on July 9th for shoplifting. He got out of jail on a $10,000 dollar personal recognizance bond for that charge.

If you have any information you are asked to call police or Crime Stoppers at 554-1111.

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