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Ali Center theft suspect arrested; Ali artwork still missing

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/8/2016 By BRUCE SCHREINER, Associated Press

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A man accused of brazenly stealing a work of art from the Muhammad Ali Center in Kentucky has been arrested in Pennsylvania, but the artwork — a print of a LeRoy Neiman painting showing Ali in a classic boxing pose — has not been recovered, authorities said Thursday.

Gerald Garrett, 58, was arrested by U.S. marshals at his home in Philadelphia on Wednesday, said Jim Burke, assistant chief deputy with the U.S. Marshals Service there.

The print, valued at $5,000, shows Ali in white trunks and red boxing gloves against an orange background. It was stolen on a Saturday afternoon in late October, when the center was open to the public. The space on the wall where the work was displayed remains empty in the hope that it will be recovered some day.

"Obviously, the Ali Center is saddened by the entire occurrence, but we do hope the artwork is located and returned to its proper place inside our LeRoy Neiman Gallery," Ali Center spokeswoman Jeanie Kahnke said in a statement.

Garrett was already on probation for a prior narcotics violation in Pennsylvania, Burke said. There's no court listing of an attorney for Garrett in Louisville, where he was indicted in the art theft.

The center in Louisville, Ali's hometown, said it was the first time an exhibit piece had been stolen, and that additional security measures were put in place to prevent future thefts. The center celebrates the career of the three-time heavyweight champion, and the humanitarian causes he fought for outside the ring.

Ali died in June at age 74 after a long battle with Parkinson's disease. Neiman, who died in 2012, was best known for his brilliantly colored images of sporting events and leisure activities. They met in 1962 in Ali's dressing room before a bout in New York City, "the beginning of a long relationship between the artist and the prize fighter," Neiman's website said.

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