Police Investigating Theft of Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs Art From Local Painter

The caretaker of a famous local Beat-era artist is under investigation for allegedly stealing a half-dozen sketches and paintings of Allen Ginsberg and William S Burroughs from the artist’s home.

Seattle Police opened their investigation in July after 84-year-old Robert Lavigne—who was friends with Ginsberg and Burroughs, and is referenced in several Jack Kerouac books—told friends and family members six sketches and paintings worth $100,000 had disappeared from his home in downtown Seattle.

Police records say Lavigne suffers from a number of health issues, including heart problems and possible dementia. Records note Lavigne is considered a “vulnerable adult” under Washington State law.

When Lavigne’s friends and family contacted the caretaker—who was friends with Lavigne before he began taking care of him in August 2010—to ask if he had any of the pictures, he told them Lavigne had given him the pieces “in exchange for massages.”

Police records list the missing pieces as The Warrior, The Mermaid, The Ginsberg Nude Drawing with Glasses, Peter Orlovsky, Dan Evans & Chick, Peter Orlovsky, Horse, as well as one of Lavigne’s paintings, Tall Mural of Peter.

Lavigne told police he had only given the caretaker one piece, Fast Eddy Meditation, “out of friendship and not in exchange for anything,” records say.

One of Lavine’s friends—who, police records say, controls his power of attorney—later gave the caretaker a camera and asked him to take pictures of the art Lavigne had given him.

When the caretaker returned the camera to Lavigne’s friend, the friend found 20 pictures of the seven missing painting, which someone had attempted to delete from the camera.

In the midst of the dispute over the missing artwork, police documents say the caretaker contacted another man on May 3rd and tried to sell him the artwork. The man told the caretaker he would buy the art if the caretaker could prove it belonged to him. The caretaker never called the man back, police records say.

Police filed a warrant to search the caretaker’s home earlier this week. He has not been arrested and no charges have been filed.