The work of playful Japanese pop artist Takashi Murakami, who has collaborated on everything from a colorful collection of Louis Vuitton bags to Kanye West videos, is always a big hit at Art Basel Miami Beach. His popularity also makes his works susceptible to theft, and a $72,500 one-of-a-kind ring designed by the artist went missing at the Delano's Florida Room during a party concluding Basel week in 2008. Now police have made an arrest after the ring popped up in a South Beach pawn shop more than two years later.
BlackBook's John Hood reports the platinum and diamond skull ring, which features two of Murakami's iconic smiling daisies set in the eyes, showed up in the window of Costa de Oro, a South Beach pawn shop, for the low, low price of $6,000.
David Tamargo, art director at the World Erotic Art Museum, which is located in the same building as Costa de Oro, saw the ring purely by chance one day and immediately recognized it as the handiwork of Murakami.
"The shop owner told me he wanted $6,000 for the ring," Tamargo told Hood. "Six thousand dollars! I couldn't believe it! It was then that I knew something was wrong. So I immediately went upstairs and called Murakami's New York office to tell them what I'd found."
Tamargo didn't get an immediate response, and fearing that the ring could slip into the wrong hands, decided to buy it himself.
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In the meantime, Miami-Dade Police Det. Pete Rodriguez had caught wind of the case.
Costa del Oro provided Rodriguez with the information of the man who had pawned it, and an arrest was made within days.