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Cold case art heist getting second look

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Posted: Friday, March 29, 2013 10:11 pm | Updated: 10:44 pm, Fri Mar 29, 2013.

SARASOTA - One of the greatest unsolved mysteries in the history of Sarasota County is getting a second look more than four decades later. Authorities are asking for the public's help in trying to determine who stole more than 40 works of art from Ben Stahl's Sarasota art museum in 1969.

Stahl, a renowned artist, opened the museum in 1965 at 7400 S. Tamiami Trail. On the evening of April 16, 1969, someone broke in and stole multiple paintings, including Stahl's depiction of the Stations of the Cross.

Stahl died in 1987.

"When you paint something, it's part of you. When it is taken away and disappears in thin air, it's like a child is gone," said Stahl's daughter, Gail.

According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office, there is little evidence, with the exception of witnesses seeing a white van near the museum at the time of the crime. Authorities hope with the media's help, someone, somewhere, may know something.

According to Gail, in the late 1960's, someone offered her father $1 million for the paintings portraying the Stations of the Cross.

"Do the math. Here we are 44 years later. Those paintings have grown immensely. There is no way to put a value on something so priceless," said Wendy Rose with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. 

Anyone with information should contact Detective Kim McGath at (941) 861-4928.

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