Arrest made in Charleston library art heists

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A man was arrested on Friday for stealing seven paintings from the Charleston County Library, officials said.Robert Wayne Russell, 57, of Charleston is charged with grand larceny.Officials with the Charleston Police Department said Russell stole three paintings on Tuesday, three on Thursday and one on Friday. The paintings were valued at $5,825.They were being displayed in the library's Saul Alexander Gallery.Officials said they were able to get a picture of Russell from surveillance video. Investigators showed the picture to a business owner on Reid Street, who recognized the man. The owner told investigators he purchased three of the paintings but did not know they had been stolen.

Russell allegedly stole four of Alizey Khan's paintings. At first she said she was disappointed but also flattered. But after the fourth theft she was no longer flattered.

"Honestly I'm starting to feel kind of victimized because they came back," Khan said. "Who does that?"

Khan said she didn't hold anything against the library. She said she didn't recognize Russell, but in a way, he rallied the art community.

"I really appreciate this gallery is here as a resource for the local artists and I hope they continue to show work," she said.

Library executive director Doug Henderson wanted to ensure they made the library safe for artists of all ages.

"We show the art shows out there from the schools and we don't want that to be stopped. It's very valuable not only for us but for the kids," Henderson said.

Henderson said county library officials would consult with the security company to figure out a better way to secure the art. Until then, the art gallery in the library will remain closed.

Khan said she was picking up three of her paintings on Tuesday.

Police are still searching for the other four paintings.


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