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Benjamin Creme's stolen paintings found in California

By Jonathan Peters
BBC Scotland news

image copyrightBenjamin Creme Museum
image captionGlasgow-born Benjamin Creme's work was displayed in the FBI's National Stolen Art File

More than 1,200 stolen paintings by Scottish artist Benjamin Creme have been recovered from a home in California.

The abstract art, worth about £600,000, was thought to have been stolen between November 2011 and August 2012.

Glasgow-born Creme, who died in 2016 at the age of 93, did not live to see his works recovered.

Los Angeles police said the art was found in a storage unit belonging to someone who had died a few years ago.

A relative called the police after discovering the art among the deceased person's possessions.

image copyrightLos Angeles Police Department
image captionLeft to right: 'Ancient Moral', 'Flame-Coloured Deva' and 'Open Mandala'

Creme, a student of surrealism, was born in Glasgow in 1922 and later lived in London and America.

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He was known for his eccentric predictions. In 1982, he placed several adverts in newspapers predicting the second coming of Christ in June of that year.

His works portray spiritual and esoteric themes, with titles such as "Ancient Moral", "Invocation" and "Soul Infusion", and have been displayed in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

image copyrightLos Angeles Police Department
image captionLeft to right: 'Shakti II', 'Soul Infusion', 'Oracle' and 'Polarity'

Creme also believed he had been contacted telepathically and preached a new-age spiritual belief. He spoke publicly about his belief in UFOs.

In 2010, after an announcement by Creme, several of his followers identified the journalist and writer Raj Patel as a messiah-figure.

Following a "flood" of emails, and due to Creme's prediction that the messiah-figure would deny his own existence, he was forced to clarify that Mr Patel was not the messiah.

image copyrightLos Angeles Police Department
image captionLeft to right: 'Within the Gates', 'Invocation' and 'Mandala IV'

The call to the Los Angeles police was made after the relative of the deceased went through their personal items, which had been taken out of a storage unit.

They later saw the paintings on the FBI's National Stolen Art File and alerted the authorities.

Related Topics

  • Art
  • Glasgow
  • California