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Art Dealer with Large Gallery on Sunnyside/LIC Border Arrested For Selling Sculpture Made of Elephant Ivory

July 10, 2017 By Christian Murray

A Long Island City-based art dealer art has been charged for selling items containing elephant ivory.

Robert Rogal, 70, who owns a 10,000 square foot art gallery at 47-15 36th Streets, sold a ballerina sculpture made of ivory to two undercover investigators. His sales person, Jaime Villamarin, 45, was also charged. The two defendants face up to four years in prison if convicted.

“The arrest of these two individuals should send a strong message that illegally selling artifacts made from the ivory tusks of threatened elephants will not be tolerated in Queens County,” said Queens District Attorney Richard A Brown in a statement. “Buyers of such items should also be especially cautious and only buy from licensed retailers. Otherwise, they may be indirectly contributing to the extinction of one of the world’s most magnificent animals – the elephant.”

According to the charges, the two investigators made an appointment to visit Ro Gallery, known for selling paintings, photographs and sculptures produced by thousands of artists.
The investigators met Villamarin on May 30 and were shown two ballerina sculptures—allegedly made with ivory. Villamarin allegedly said: “These are ivory, but we don’t list them as such because you can’t sell ivory,” according to the District Attorney’s office.

An investigator later followed up via e-mail, was quoted a price and came back to the gallery on June 14 and paid $2,612 in cash for one of the ballerina sculptures. Rogal, the owner, then showed the investigators another piece—priced at $3,600—and allegedly stated: “I believe it is ivory” and “they don’t even allow the sale of them [ivory].”

The investigators left the gallery with the ballerina they bought and got it examined. Experts determined that it was made of ivory.

The investigators obtained a search warrant and raided the gallery on Thursday, July 6. They recovered several sculptures made with ivory, as well as artifacts believed to be made from the tooth of a sperm whale and the skin of crocodiles, according to the District Attorney’s office. Forensic analysis is pending.

Rogal, who lives on East 74th Street in Manhattan, and Vallamarin, from Brooklyn, were released on their own recognizance and ordered to return to court on August 29.

“Aggressively cracking down on the illegal market for ivory will help bring an end to the slaughtering of elephants and send a clear message that we will not allow this trade to continue in New York,” Brown said.

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16 Comments

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Kamila Cooprider

Robert ROGAL is selling at least 13 pieces of valuable art STOLEN by Erik Graham from my parents Patti and Coop. Here are just a few:
AGAM Yaacov signed the Kinetic sculpture – we have a photo of AGAM with my mom and dad in San Diego ROGAL sold it: http://rogallery.com/Agam_Yaacov/Yaacov_Agam-Book_Sculpture.htm Our Cuevas e dition Robert sold all 8: http://rogallery.com/cuevas_jose_luis/atratti-autoratratti/cuevas-atratti-01.htm TOBIASSE – still for sale: http://rogallery.com/Tobiasse_Theo/tobiasse_painting.htm
Didier GRANDT – we knew Didier and his wife Erika – ERIK GRAHAM THE THIEF even took a photo of it here in San Diego at our house: http://rogallery.com/Grandt_Didier/Grandt-Les-Femmes-de-Marche.htm

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Kamila Cooprider

My parents bought this from Gerry Wentowrth in Great Falls Montana (my birthplace!) #FRAUD ? Coop and Patti knew Gerry Wentworth – we have the Certificate of Authenticity – it is Number 2 cast of 24 bronzes! Rogal claims he “may have bought it from Erik Graham” who stole it from my mom and dad AND Rogal now has it for sale (just one of $100,000 plus art Erik stole:
http://www.rogallery.com/Wentworth/Wentworth-from-the-earth.htm

Reply
Bruce Hochman

April 10,2018
Robert Rogal pled guilty to all charges. Judge sentenced to one year conditional release.

Reply
Anon

I am glad to see this story. We should do anything and everything we can here in the developed world to help developing countries protect their vulnerable populations, especially elephants.

For those of you who don’t understand, and as Dee said already, cutting off demand for ivory, even antique ivory, is the best way to stop poaching activities. If there’s no demand, poachers won’t have an economic reason to poach.

Ditto if we can provide people with more economic activities so they don’t have to become poachers. I am sure the poachers don’t enjoy it.

For the ‘illegals’ commentor, I’m not sure how this art dealer wasn’t also an illegal if found guilty. S/he’s breaking a law no? Isn’t that ILLEGAL?

Reply
Dee

Get informed. It’s ivory demand that keeps the ivory trade going today no matter if it’s an antique or not. No mention on these pieces being antique either.

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Silly

Honestly kind of a stupid law. I am not sure how anyone selling an antique ivory is hurting elephants today.

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Anonymous

they bust this man but they are not busting all of the “ILLEGALS” — sad world we live in –

Reply
Truth

This guy is a bad man, no doubt about it. But on a grand scale; if you don’t like people who make their money then you will never make money. If you are happy when people make their money so shall you. Don’t let politicians make you think they must balance the scale by redistributing wealth that comes from people who steal or deceive… After a while all thieves will fall. Wealth comes from you as an individual not a politician!

Reply
Oil, Beef Hooked

Agree! Why should the wealthy have to obey the law? No fair 🙁

Money = Honest People

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