Man charged with stealing artwork from Muhammad Ali Center

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A 58-year-old man was charged Tuesday with stealing a print of a Leroy Neiman painting from the Muhammad Ali Center in late October.

Gerald Garrett is facing one count of theft of items worth more than $500 but less than $10,000, a Class-D Felony, according to an indictment filed in Jefferson District Court on Tuesday. If convicted, Garrett could spend five years in prison.

The $5,000 signed piece of art, which hung in the LeRoy Neiman Gallery, was stolen on Oct. 22 and features an image of Muhammad Ali in white boxing trunks and red boxing gloves standing against an orange background. It has still not been recovered, according to WHAS-TV, Louisville.

Louisville Metro Police officials previously said that an unidentified man took the artwork by the late Neiman from the downtown museum around 1 p.m. on Oct. 22. They said they had positively identified the suspect three days later, but were still in the process of locating him and recovering the artwork.

Nieman, who died in 2012, was known for his colorful depictions of sports and leisure activities and was an official artist of the Kentucky Derby and five Olympiads. The late artist first met Ali in 1962 in a New York City dressing room before the Louisville native took to the arena, according to Neiman's website.

"The artist frequently sketched and painted the athlete in training and at his major bouts around the world, constantly sketching, drawing and painting," the website says. "Ali often took up the brush himself, and did a number of prediction drawings for Neiman before big fights."

Muhammad Ali Center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke released a statement in late October that said officials were still estimating the exact value of the painting, but it is "significant."

"There is an investigation underway for the purposes of identifying and bringing the misguided individuals who stole the print to justice," she said. "Additional security measures are already in place to prevent like incidents from occurring."

Kentucky court records show that Garrett does not have previous charges in Jefferson County. It is unclear whether he's in custody.

Follow Justin Sayers on Twitter: @_JustinSayers


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