Former Chihuly worker charged with stealing 90 pieces of art worth $3 million

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An example of real Chihuly glass

TACOMA, Wash. — A former employee at the Chihuly warehouse in Tacoma has been charged with stealing more than $3 million in artwork to support a drug habit.

Pierce County prosecutors charged Christopher Kaul on Thursday in a series of thefts going back to 2013.

Prosecutors say Kaul stole the artwork and told buyers that he could get Chihuly glass and paintings at discounted prices.

“We’ve seen this story before, an employee is hooked on drugs and steals from his boss,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “The twist here is the boss is a world famous artist.”

Court records say other workers became aware of the thefts in September 2014 after they were contacted by an appraiser who had three pieces of art that had been missing from the warehouse for months.

The Chihuly Company conducted an audit and found about 90 pieces missing at a total value of $3 million.

Court records say Kaul denied stealing the items at first, then confessed to the FBI.

Kaul was charged by warrant and hasn’t been arrested. His arraignment is set for June 16.

Officials say a private investigator has recovered nearly half of the stolen artwork from buyers who returned the items.

“If a deal sounds too good to be true,” said Lindquist, “it probably is.”

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