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Thursday, April 18, 2019

A “WHALE” OF A TALE: Massachusetts Painter Kevin Doyle, Still Selling Fake Basquiat Postcards On eBay, Stole A 7-Foot Whale Bone And Sold It To A Cape Cod Property Developer...For $400!

“I asked Doyle if he is under a doctors care. He said that he is deaf and disabled through the military. I asked him if he sees a psychiatrist or psychologist, and he said “I am pretty squared away”. I took that to mean that he is not seeing a psychiatrist.”

Yarmouth Police Department Report;
December 20, 2018

In a craven example of self-justification, last December Cape Cod painter (and prolific Basquiat forger) Kevin Doyle attempted to wave away any criminal repercussions from his admitted five-finger discount of a six-foot North Atlantic right whale jaw bone.  

The North Atlantic right whale is one of the most critically endangered populations of large whales in the world, with only an estimated 450 remaining. 

Speaking with the Cape Cod News days after helping himself to the jaw bone, formerly located behind a storage building at Yarmouth-based International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and selling it to local realtor/developer Ron Rudnick for $400, Doyle said he spent 15 years in Vermont, where “the woods are the woods,” and figured it was public property because it was unmarked. 

“I guess every patch on the Cape belongs to someone,” he said. 

Kevin Doyle eBay Listing, 'gentleman_collector' seller ID

Doyle was featured on this blog last summer, most notably in a multi-part series that exposed his association with art fraudsters Taryn Burns, William Force, Lumsden Quan, and David Damante.

My investigation revealed evidence that strongly suggested three people who wrote character reference letters on Quan's behalf—Doyle, Burns and Force—played significant roles in the fake Basquiat painting scam executed between 2017-2018 in California and Nevada by David Damante. 

The letters contained choice whoppers about Lu Quan, about to enter prison for selling black rhino horns: “hard working and law-abiding” (Doyle), “possesses high moral character, with integrity and values” (Burns) and someone who “has continued to demonstrate his deep desire to assist and help me, and others, without consideration of his needs, believing his needs will always be supplied by the grace of God.” (Force). 

The federal investigation is ongoing, and Damante is currently residing in a Las Vegas halfway house.

According to local Cape Cod news coverage, Doyle said he went to his dentist’s office, across the street from the IFAW building, for a brief visit December 6, 2018. While there, he found the restroom was occupied so he drove across the street and parked in the adjacent lot and walked into the woods to relieve himself. 

There, he saw the 6- to 7-foot-long section of jawbone in a pile of mulch. 

“I see it buried in rotten leaves and it appears to me to be an abandoned whale bone,” he said. 

Doyle backed his truck up to the woods and loaded the bone into his uncovered cab. A man who identified himself as an IFAW employee confronted him in the parking lot and asked what he was doing in the woods, he said. 

“The parking lot guy says, ‘What are you doing here?’” Doyle said. “Then he looks at the whale bone. At this point I believe myself to be the owner of found property, and the guy got creepy with me.” 

Once he left the parking lot, after the employee said nothing to him about the bone in the bed of his truck, he called a friend who expressed interest in the bone, but the friend said to call him the next day. He called another friend, Ronald Rudnick, who told him the same thing. 

Doyle said he knew whale’s bones had value and that both friends liked to collect such items. On December 7, he visited Rudnick, who gave him $400 and took the bone. 

“He says, ‘This might not be legal,’ but he’s already in possession of it,” Doyle said. 

Rudnick pleaded guilty in 1983 to conspiracy charges for his role in the theft of almost 2 tons of marijuana from the South Yarmouth state police barracks in 1981. He received a suspended prison term and probation after cooperating with investigators. 

The bone was reported stolen December 12, 2018, and notice of the disappearance started appearing in the news December 16, 2018. 

“Unbeknownst to me, the bone is all over the news,” Doyle said. “It’s a gigantic story in Boston.” Yarmouth police detectives, along with a Dennis detective, came to his house Wednesday and asked him to come to the police station. 

He was under the impression that officers had recovered property he had previously reported stolen from him. 

“I have no idea,” he said. “We’re all smiles.” 

The detectives asked if he sold something a few weeks earlier, but Doyle, an artist, said he thought they were referring to his paintings. 

They asked him again and again, and he denied selling anything — until they asked if he had sold anything to his friend Rudnick. “Then the light bulb goes off,” he said. 

The detectives told him the bone was in the woods so it could be cleaned of its flesh by bugs and microbes. 

“I never thought for a minute I should not have it,” Doyle said. 

“It was 12 to 16 feet behind a shed on an incline. It clearly looked discarded to me.” Doyle said he knows he made a mistake. 

“I know I’m some kind of fool,” he said. “But I’m not a victim or a perpetrator.” 

Victim or perpetrator?

According to the official Yarmouth Police Department report, obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, it's not that simple.

Here is the entire report:

The case was later closed on February 6, 2019, and Doyle was not criminally charged (a decision likely based on the whale bone's return to the IFAW).

But as you can see, there's lots of there there.

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