Don’t know much about property

Authorities have finally cracked the largest burglary ever reported from a Massachusetts residence, the 1978 theft of a Cezanne and six other paintings from the Stockbridge home of collector Michael Bakwin. And who’d been holding on to the paintings all these years? Retired criminal defense attorney Robert M. Mardirosian, 71, who came into their possession soon after their theft when the burglar — whom Mardirosian was representing in an unrelated matter — left them at the lawyer’s residence. (The burglar had intended to fence the paintings right away, but Mardirosian had advised him he might get caught doing that.) Not long thereafter the burglar was slain by criminal associates. Mardirosian created dummy corporations and accounts to hold the paintings and at least twice tried to sell them, but was blocked when the Art Loss Register, which intervenes to prevent the sale of stolen art, took steps to stop that from happening. Mardirosian, who now lives in a gated community in Falmouth on Cape Cod, says he acted from legitimate motives: “My whole intent was to find a way to get them back to the owner in return for a 10 percent commission.” (Stephen Kurkjian, “1978 art heist solved”, Boston Globe, Feb. 1). Plus: updates February 2011 (on attorney’s conviction and return of paintings to owner).


  • Notice: not one word about prosecuting Mardirosian for posession of stolen property and obstruction of justice. He admitted that he knew of the crime, who committed it, and Mardirosian was, arguably, an accomplice after the fact because he intentionally hid evidence of a crime from the authorities. And, to top it all off, he actually planned to negotiate a “finders fee” for returning the stolen property to its rightful owner. People like Mardirosian are the reason the public holds the legal profession in such low esteem.

  • Will somebody explain to me why this guy isn’t being prosecuted for at least recieving stolen property? Not to mention charges of extortion, fraud and probably many others. He was keeping stolen property in order to get a reward of finder’s fee? He has tried to sell these paintings, what makes him any better than a fence? No wonder people have the opinion of lawyers that they do!

  • Can a criminal law attorney enlighten us on the potential criminal liability of Mr. Mardirosian’s actions? I suppose that since he’s retired, there is neither no way nor any point in initiating disciplinary action against him. As a lawyer myself, I am embarrassed that someone like this belongs to my profession. It’s no wonder that the public consistently rates attorneys less trustworthy than used car salesmen.

  • Is Mardirosian claiming that attempting to sell the paintings was the best way of locating the rightful owner, as opposed to, say, directly contacting the authorities?

    Even if one accepts that explanation for his recent actions, IMO (as a layman) he long ago crossed the line into criminality – twice. First, he knowingly advised a client in how to advance a criminal operation. Second, he knowingly kept possession of stolen property even after the client went permanently beyond the reach of the law.

  • If I remember correctly, a judge ruled that Mardirosian is liable for $3M for the the fees acquired by the company looking for the paintings.

    Unfortunately he is also disputing them as well.

    He’s a criminal, and should be treated as such.

  • he wanted money to return the paintings. That means he was attempting extortion.