At Large  November 9, 2019  Chandra Noyes

$800,000 of Stolen Esoteric Art Recovered


Lithographs of Benjamin Creme paintings recovered by the LAPD

Benjamin Creme is best known for his out-there New Age philosophies. The Scottish esotericist died in 2016, leaving behind extensive writings on spiritualism, the coming of the Messiah, UFOs, and crop circles. Though Creme was known around the world during his lifetime for these philosophies, he was also an accomplished artist.

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Benjamin Creme

Having dropped out of school at sixteen to pursue his career as a painter, Creme painted, drew and exhibited throughout his life. Originally working in landscapes and then an abstracted figurative style, in the 1960s Creme began a period of esoteric paintings, inspired by Malevich and others, many of which are reminiscent of Hilma af Klint. According to the gallery that represents him, England & Co., his works were once acquired by the British Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum. In Los Angeles, his works have a home at the Benjamin Creme Museum, which seeks to promote his philosophical and artistic legacies. 

This week, fans of his art got some good news, as the LAPD announced the recovery of  $800,000 worth his artworks. An anonymous tipster was clearing out a deceased relative’s storage unit in San Fernando, California, when they discovered the trove of works. Consulting the National Stolen Art database, the realized the works had been missing since 2012 and contacted the police.

The group of signed lithographs are part of a stash of thousands of prints stolen from Michael Flaum, the lithographer who printed them for Creme. The works, printed in the 2000s from Creme’s 1960s paintings, have now been returned to Flaum. The titles of the works point to Creme’s interests in spiritualism: Ancient Moral, Oracle, Soul Infusion, Flame-Coloured Deva, are amongst the recovered works.

Much of Creme’s work, be it written, visual art, through his many lectures, or his non-profit organization and magazine, Share International, focused on his belief that Maitreya the World Teacher, a culmination of spiritual leaders, had returned to guide humanity. Creme believed this reincarnation of spiritual knowledge was living in London and would reveal himself to the world.

Though his prophecies didn't come true in his lifetime, Creme's ideas still have a following, and there is a potential market for these artworks now that they're back in the hands of their rightful owner.

About the Author

Chandra Noyes

Chandra Noyes is Managing Editor for Art & Object.

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