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Judge OKs sale of accused Md. historian’s art

A presidential historian charged with conspiring to steal documents from U.S. archives will be allowed to sell an Andy Warhol print and other items to cover his living expenses, according to an order issued by a federal judge Tuesday.

Judge Catherine Blake granted permission to Barry Landau, 63, to sell silverware, coins and a Warhol print depicting the late actress Elizabeth Taylor. The sale will allow Landau to pay his day-to-day expenses, including the $2,700 rent on his New York City apartment, health insurance and food, according to his attorney Andrew White.

Landau and his assistant, Jason Savedoff, 24, are charged with stealing historical documents from the Maryland Historical Society and conspiring to take documents from other archives. Both have pleaded not guilty, but a hearing scheduled this month for Savedoff may indicate a plea change.

Landau’s terms of release require court permission to sell or dispose of any assets. His attorney submitted photos of many of the items so prosecutors could make inquiries to prevent the sale of any stolen property. Prosecutors did not object to the sale of many of the items, noting they had no information to suggest that the items in the photos do not belong to Landau, but asked that court withhold permission of the sale of other items, including presidential inaugural medals and jewelry, that were not among the submitted photos.

In prosecutors’ response to Landau’s request, they note that investigators removed 10,000 documents from Landau’s midtown Manhattan apartment. So far, prosecutors say investigators from the National Archives and Records Administration have traced more than 2,000 stolen documents back to libraries other repositories.

Prosecutors allege that Landau and Savedoff had about 80 documents when they were arrested at the historical society in Baltimore in July. About 60 belonged to the society, including papers signed by President Abraham Lincoln worth $300,000 and presidential inaugural ball invitations and programs worth $500,000. Prosecutors have alleged that the historian used different routines to distract librarians and had sport jackets and overcoats altered to allow him to stash documents inside large pockets.

Landau was allowed to return to New York with GPS monitoring. Savedoff, who surrendered his American and Canadian passports, was released on $250,000 cash bail to his mother’s custody and is staying in a Baltimore-area apartment.

White wrote in last month’s request that Landau may not have much cash, but does have items that are “unquestionably not related” to the charges that he can sell to cover living expenses. The Warhol print, “Liz,” a gift from the artist, is the only piece of significant value that Landau is seeking to sell, he wrote. An expert has valued it at $40,000 to $60,000, he said.

Other items include artworks by Salvador Dali, Francesco Scavullo, Victor Vasarely and LeRoy Neiman, with the Scavullo and Vasarely works each worth about $5,000, White added.