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After almost seven months on the run, a suspected member of a multi-state US art theft ring has surrendered to police. The suspect, Nicholas Dombek, is believed to be one of nine men responsible for thefts of sports memorabilia, fine arts and jewelry over more than two decades, primarily in northeastern Pennsylvania. Dombek’s surrender is the last among the thieves; all nine suspects are now held by federal investigators. As of this writing, four of the nine suspects have pleaded guilty.

According to a federal indictment made public in June 2023, the ring that Dombek allegedly belonged to began its 20-year run with a 1999 memorabilia theft from Keystone College in Factoryville, Pennsylvania, stealing equipment and paperwork from late-19th century alumnus and baseball star Christy Mathewson. Thefts in following years were mainly concentrated in the Scranton, Pennsylvania area, but the group was allegedly also responsible for heists from museums as far afield as New Jersey, New York and North Dakota.

Art crime

Warhol and Pollock works stolen by American crime ring may not have been destroyed, authorities reveal

Apart from sporting goods and trophies, Dombek and his associates are alleged to have orchestrated the 2005 theft of Andy Warhol’s La Grande Passion (1984) and Jackson Pollock’s Springs Winter (1949) from Scranton’s Everhart Museum. While investigators initially feared the group destroyed the paintings to evade detection, recent testimony has reignited hopes that the works might still be in existence, as a group member claimed to have seen the stolen Warhol work in the last three years.

Other stolen goods, including Jasper Cropsey’s Upper Hudson (1871), championship boxing belts and various golf and baseball trophies met more sinister fates—they were either melted into component metals and resold or destroyed altogether. Discussing a Tony Zale championship belt stolen from Canastota, New York’s International Boxing Hall of Fame, Zale’s relative told ABC News: “It’s impossible to think they would have melted down something that is so historic, they are invaluable to our family. I’m sure they didn’t get much out of them”.

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