Charges may be filed against a former manager of Durango’s Open Shutter Gallery in connection with a wide-ranging case of art thefts, authorities in Pennsylvania said.
Brandon Donahue will be charged by authorities in Colorado, the Chester County, Pennsylvania, District Attorney’s Office said in a news release.
However, Durango Police Chief Jim Spratlen said investigators have not decided whether to pursue criminal charges against Donahue.
“We are involved in this investigation from Chester County and have been working very closely with their investigators,” Spratlen said in an email message Thursday. “At this time, we have not made any arrest or a charging decision on Brandon Donahue. This case is still under investigation.”
Donahue is named as a key figure in a Chester County affidavit. The affidavit says Donahue purchased numerous stolen photography prints from Bree DeStephano, 32, of York, Pennsylvania, who was an employee of prominent photographer Steve McCurry.
Donahue used an Open Shutter Gallery credit card to purchase the stolen prints from DeStephano, the affidavit says. He then sold the prints and sent DeStephano checks from the proceeds.
“DeStephano conspired with Brandon Donahue, a manager of a photo gallery in Colorado, to complete these thefts and sales of stolen prints,” the affidavit says.
Donahue’s lawyer, Anthony Savistano of Durango, said Thursday he and Donahue are working with authorities “and we’ll continue to do so. At this point in time, I don’t have anything further.”
DeStephano was charged Tuesday by Chester County authorities with stealing 50 art prints valued at $628,000. The alleged thefts involved McCurry photos, including “Afghan Girl,” a famous photograph that was published on the cover of the June 1985 edition of National Geographic.
DeStephano was employed by Steve McCurry Studios. The thefts were committed between May 2012 and November 2013, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office said.
Some of the stolen prints were recovered, including several from Open Shutter Gallery, the affidavit says.
Donahue worked at Open Shutter for eight years, owner Margy Dudley told the Herald in 2013. Dudley could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“The gallery is a reputable place,” Dudley told the Herald in 2013. “The gallery and myself have always dealt with the utmost integrity. Integrity is huge for me and this gallery.
“It’s just sad and ugly,” she added. “The whole thing is unfortunate.”