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Oldsmar mayor's Picasso missing

(ran Seminole edition)

An original Pablo Picasso drawing owned by Oldsmar Mayor Jerry Beverland was stolen from a Largo auction house a week ago.

The piece, the image of a head which the Spanish artist drew over a postcard of a bull fight, was set to be auctioned Sept. 12 from Granny's Auction House, 5175 Ulmerton Road.

Auction house officials discovered the mounted and framed artwork was missing that morning, but they think it was taken during a preview the day before, auction house president Walter Hodgdon said.

Hodgdon said the piece was worth between $2,500 and $5,000, but could have fetched more at auction.

"This is an original Picasso," he said.

Beverland said he bought the piece in England less than a year ago. He decided to sell it so he could buy other art. Beverland, who considers art his hobby, valued the piece at about $15,000. It was not insured, he said.

"Yeah, I'm upset about it," Beverland said. "I don't blame Granny's, it's not their fault. It's just somebody out there who needs to have their hands chopped off."

Hodgdon said Granny's will owe Beverland at least $2,500 if the piece is not found.

Hodgdon said four employees were working Sept. 11, covering a space of about 5,000 square feet. He thinks a pair of thieves may be responsible, one who distracted an employee and the other who may have stuffed the piece under his or her shirt.

Hodgdon said he now plans to install cameras in the business.

Granny's filed a report with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, which will be assigning a detective to investigate, spokeswoman Marianne Pasha said.

Beverland said it will be tough to find who took the piece. Granny's is offering a reward for its return, though Hodgdon would not provide the amount.

Hodgdon said the thief or thieves probably didn't randomly steal the piece. They left a lesser-valued Picasso piece and other merchandise untouched.

"They took it because of what it was, I'm sure," he said. "I think somebody purposely came in to get that."

Said Beverland: "It's probably on someone's wall."

TO HELP

Anyone with information about this case can call Crime Stoppers toll-free at 1-800-873-8477. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.

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