In a daring broad daylight heist, thieves stole hundreds of canvases and sculptures from the Romero Britto Art Store located in the Miami International Airport.
Jacinta Fernandez, manager of the airport location informed the Plantain, “A frequent flyer inquired about a possible holiday discounts on a painting of a smiling flower he has had his eye on for two years. We informed him that we don’t do holiday discounts as that would interfere with our year-round perpetual sale. That’s when we noticed that the smiling flower painting was gone! Along with 57 other semi-original works and prints that all look the same."
"This immediately raised our concern for our hermana stores in Lincoln Road and Wynwood.” Her calls to these stores quickly revealed that over half the inventory was missing. “We were so surprised! Over half the inventory on the gallery floor showroom has been missing since before Thanksgiving—and no one even noticed,” said Alvaro Caseres, assistant manager of the Miami Beach Lincoln Road Mall location. "It is hard to keep inventory when you can't distinguish one piece from another."
“Then we remembered the recent Walk of Fame star that Romero was just awarded in March--we feared it, too, might be stolen,” said Fernandez, referring to the concrete-encased Britto star located at the Bayside Walk of Fame which features sidewalk stars designed by Britto himself to honor accomplished and famed Miami personalities. But, after some searching, Britto’s star was found, safely located under a postcard rack.
Some art critics have speculated that the stolen works were removed to be sold on the black market during Art Basel. Myra Lebowitz, owner of the prestigious Miami-based, Lebowitz Gallery said that “People will pay for anything once they perceive it to have value. That’s what keeps me in business.” A source wishing to remain anonymous leaked to The Plantain, “His stuff is crap—I ought to know, I manage his Miami Beach store. Whomever took it was just trying to do the art world a favor.” Still, others have hinted that Britto himself removed the works to create a media stir to boost sales.
Miami-Dade Aviation Police Officers investigating the robbery reviewed the airports surveillance camera system, which revealed a sole, sweatshirt hoodie-wearing thief carting off Britto’s oeuvres d’art in several trips, stacking the "art pieces" by a terminal trashcan where they remained until the cleaning staff carted them off to the dumpsters. When confronted by investigators about his involvement, Airport janitor Hector Esquival added, "I don't know jack shit about art, but I do know trash. And that stuff I threw out was trash."
The mystery may never be solved according to Detective Ashley Ramirez, who said the investigation to find the art thieves will be ending soon. "It is difficult for our department to devote resources to this case as the items that are missing have zero value.
Romero Britto, 54, renowned Brazilian neo-pop artist who has resided in Miami since 1989, came to fame in the mid-1990’s with his colorful, child-like style that appealed to the masses and quickly became capitalized in the form of reprints, sculptures, key chains, ATM machines, fashion wear, fire hydrants, and a legion of tchotchkes. Stores began opening up in malls and airports in other cities in order to vie for a market share from their main competitor, Hello Kitty stores.
With an estimated net worth of nearly 70 million dollars, Britto is not just content to afflict the art world; a declared conservative, he has held fundraising events for Republicans, including election losers Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush.
Britto colorfully declined to be interviewed for this article, instead offering to sell us a Britto iPhone case for 30 bucks.
By Lisa W. Hopper, staff writer for The Plantain
We'll take Ripple, I guess: rsRfFxM4vMUn7DZGz5PjVEFC2tKadGUwFr