Photographer hires Colorado private eye to help track down stolen art

Colorado private investigator helps Seattle artist screenshot

Seattle-based artist Christopher Boffoli recently shipped art to a Denver apartment in what turned out to be an elaborate credit card scam. The effort spanned several states, including Colorado.  

Boffoli gained fame for his photos where he places tiny figures in or alongside food to create vignettes. “Champagne Scuba” is one of his most popular pieces. The final 30th edition of the photo, originally taken in 2014, was stolen earlier this year.

Boffoli himself explains the story on his website. With law enforcement unable to help, he turned to a Colorado private eye.

An elaborate story hides the truth

Explaining the story on his site, Boffoli says a young man walked into an art galleries that represents him, and bought up $10K worth of art via multiple payment methods. He asked for Champagne Scuba to be shipped to Deco Apartments in Denver.

After sleeping on it, the man called back with the excuse he overspent on the art. He said his father in Dubai would be mad. He asked the gallery owner to return the art and get a refund, except for Champagne Scuba, that is.

The gallery owner partially refunded him “using the transaction numbers from the previous day.”  The customer then grew angry because the refunds didn’t go to the accounts he wanted, and abruptly hung up.  Come to find out the credit cards were stolen, including the one used to buy the piece that was shipped to Denver, leaving Boffoli and the dealer out of $3500. The photo remains missing.

Law enforcement resources lacking

Denver Police referred Boffoli to Seattle Police, saying he had to report the crime where he lives.  After doing so, Seattle Police then essentially told Boffoli, “tough luck.” They claimed they didn’t have the resources to investigate, despite the crime’s status of grand larceny.

“You find yourself a victim of a crime where there’s kind of no rule of law,” Boffoli said in the interview with 7News.  “Yes, we have laws, but there’s just nobody available to enforce it.” He turned to the media to let others know about this kind of scam.

Boffoli did some of his own sleuthing, as documented on his website story.  He eventually turned to Denver metro area private investigator Sammie Swearingen. The firm turned up that there was a resident with the name of the buyer who lived at Deco Apartments, but the swindler still seems to be on the loose.

It’s hard to say how prevalent art fraud occurs within the state as many cases go unreported. Sometimes scammers get away without detection. Other times, it’s too embarrassing for scammees to admit their gullibility. Or they otherwise choose not to pursue legal action.

The art industry has taken steps to combat fraud through initiatives like the establishment of authenticity committees, art market regulations, and increased awareness among artists, collectors and galleries.  

Colorado private investigator help

Unfortunately for artists and those scammed, art fraud may fall low on most police departments’ priority lists, as demonstrated by this case. Fortunately, there are plenty of Denver private investigators available to help. They can fill a void in law enforcement and/or otherwise complement their efforts. They can conduct independent investigations, gather evidence, interview witnesses, locate and verify people, and otherwise provide valuable insights that aid in solving crimes. Additionally, Colorado private investigators often have the ability to dedicate more time and attention to specific cases, allowing for a more thorough and comprehensive investigation. Their expertise and collaboration with law enforcement agencies can enhance overall investigative capacity, particularly in instances where strained resources might otherwise impede the progress of a case. Want to know more, contact us today!

One response to “Photographer hires Colorado private eye to help track down stolen art”

  1. Sasha Avatar

    Great work out there, this was a very nice read. Thank you Nancy!

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Nancy Kristof
Nancy Kristof

Nancy is a writer, editor and communications professional nearly 30 years of experience. Originally from the east coast, she's lived in Colorado since 2004 and owns her own communications consulting business and supports Ross Investigators as an information gatherer, blogger and editor.

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