NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - A Craigslist posting for an original George Rodrigue "Blue Dog" painting has landed two Gentilly men in jail.
Jared Thomas, 21, and Jarred Tervalon, 23, were each booked with possession of stolen property. Officers state they were arrested in connection with the theft of six Rodrigue pieces, totaling an estimated $75,000.
The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office set up a sting operation after receiving word of a Criagslist post offering a bargain on an original Blue Dog painting. The Craigslist post specifically asked prospective buyers not to contact Rodrigue's gallery.
The painting being sold had an estimated value of $50,000, deputies say.
A prospective buyer, questioning the legitimacy of the painting, contacted Rodrigue's French Quarter gallery, according to our partners at Nola.com/The Time Picayune. At this time, the gallery realized the painting was missing from inventory.
The gallery contacted the New Orleans Police Department and a sting operation was set up with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. An undercover officer offered to pay $6,000 in cash for the painting, officers say. The exchange was to be made at the Clearview Shopping Center in Metairie.
Deputies say that Thomas pulled the painting from his trunk during the sting operation on December 10. Detectives arrested him at the scene.
Thomas identified Tervalon as a "childhood friend" and a co-conspirator in the case. Thomas allegedly received the paintings from Tervalon and the two planned split the proceeds from the painting.
Investigators later determined that Tervalon had access to the artwork while working for his grandfather, a contractor who has done framing for the studio.
After an investigation that included a search of Thomas's phone, police served a warrant on December 11 at Tervalon's home. Tervalon allegedly admitted to the thefts.
Police say they found five Blue Dog works, valued at approximately $5,000 apiece, inside a van at the residence. The artwork was allegedly recovered undamaged.