In a twisted plot that played out like The Thomas Crown Affair, a pair of California businessmen, who were accused of stealing their own multimillion dollar fine art collection have finally gotten their names cleared after almost three years of fighting for justice.
Angelo Amadio and Ralph Kennaugh were devastated when 14 paintings by world-renowned artists including Vincent Van Gogh,Jackson Pollack, Henri-Émile-Benoít Matisse and G.H. Rothe were stolen from their Pebble Beach, Calif. home in September 2009. The situation went from bad to worse when they were transformed from victims to suspects after being accused of lying that the artwork even existed.
“Sheriff Mike Kanalakis and the original detective on the case, Mark Stevens, held a press saying that the theft never took place,” Amadio told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview Monday.
“We were accused of the art not being real and then investigated on insurance fraud despite there being no evidence. We had done nothing wrong.”
At the time of the heist, the paintings were valued at $27 million, and the pair later revised the collection's estimated value to $80 million, which would make it one of the biggest thefts in fine art history.
The devastating aftermath of the accusations forced Amadio, an aspiring lawyer, to temporarily drop out of law school and instead try to prove to the legal world that he was not a master criminal.
In fact, Amadio believes that it was a case his law firm at the time was working on that sparked the finger of blame being pointed at him and Kennaugh.
“I was working for an attorney who was investigating the sheriff on civil rights violations,” he told us. “I was burglarized and then had to call the sheriff to report theft.”
What followed next was, “A smear campaign to ruin our name. He (Kanalakis) said we were in the mob because I was Italian.”
In 2010, a new investigation was granted by Sheriff Scott Miller who had defeated the incumbent Sheriff, and on Friday the partners finally got the good news that they are no longer suspects in the multimillion dollar theft case.
“Though numerous interviews were conducted, nothing substantial was developed which would lead me to a specific suspect(s),” wrote Detective R. Jorgensen in an e-mail to their attorney.
“Pairing that with the lack of physical evidence, I have concluded my investigation into Mr. Amadio and Mr. Kenaugh’s burglary and have suspended the case pending any new developments."
Now that Amadio and Kennaugh are no longer suspects, they are offered a $5 million reward for information pertaining to the crime.