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Here's how media and awareness led to recovery of stolen artwork in Los Banos

Stolen artwork created by Argentinian Maximo Gonzalez sits on a table at the Los Banos Police Department Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, waiting to be identified after it was found by a Los Banos resident.
Stolen artwork created by Argentinian Maximo Gonzalez sits on a table at the Los Banos Police Department Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, waiting to be identified after it was found by a Los Banos resident. Courtesy of Ivan Buenader

Much of an Argentinian artist's work that was stolen from a truck in Los Banos last week has been recovered, according to city police and officials from a Saratoga arts center.

All of the 156 stolen drawings have been recovered, while 52 of the 130 paintings were found, said Ivan Buenader of the Montalvo Arts Center.

The artwork, created by Argentinian Maximo Gonzalez, was stolen Friday while en route to the arts center from Texas, Buenader said.

The artwork depicts dead an dying trees that Gonzalez has encountered to spark conversations about the environment. His project has taken him all over the world for more than six years.

The driver of the truck hauling the art rested at the hotel Oct. 27, police said. When he woke up, he discovered a lock on the truck was broken and the artwork was missing.

Los Banos Cmdr. Ray Reyna said the art was discovered Thursday by a Los Banos woman who was walking on a path near Place Road when she came across the paintings.

"She remembered hearing about the paintings through the news," Reyna said, noting that the woman then called police to report the find.

Gonzalez and an arts center official drove to Los Banos Thursday to identify the paintings.

Buenader said all but one piece of art was in good condition; one of the paintings had a large hole through it.

He also noted that Los Banos police have said they may have leads on where the rest of the paintings may be.

"In the short term, we are planning to do an exhibition where the recovered paintings will be shown," Buenader said. The exhibition will open Nov. 17 at the arts center at 15400 Montalvo Road in Saratoga.

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