Marvel's Joe Quesada Issues Alert Over Stolen Archie Art – And Of His Earliest Work

Last week, Bleeding Cool ran a story about a handyman arrested for stealing a quarter of a million dollars worth of comic book art from Marvel Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada's personal collection, discovered after a dealer was sold a personal picture by Joe of his wife Nanci Quesada by the accused.

Today, Joe Quesada talked more about what happened. Including that the actual offence happened a year ago and that they have been living it with it since. He writes,

For those who know me I rarely post personal stuff on social media mostly because I don't think it's all that interesting so I try to stick to industry stuff, art and all things Marvel. However due to recent news of a burglary that occurred at my home I find myself with two reasons why I need to write this. First I want to thank everyone who was concerned and reached out and secondly I'm hoping I can get a bit of help from those of you in the industry, especially retailers, dealers and collectors of original art.

I'll do my best to keep this short as it's still an ongoing investigation but it's going to be tough as I've known the man arrested for this crime for over 15 years. Mr. Francesco Bove was my contractor/handyman and I employed he and his company's services on a consistent basis over that period of time.

On January of 2014 our home's security system and cameras alerted us of a hot water pipe that had burst in our finished basement filling it with water and steam. We were at our other home at the time so my wife drove up immediately and the first thing she did was to remove approximately 800 pieces of our personal art collection that was stored in a secure closet as well as two pieces which hung on the walls. These were immediately stored in an empty drawer of a closet on the main floor. Luckily only a handful of pieces suffered some mild water damage and the majority of the collection was spared. Thankfully nothing was lost. Sometime after that Mr. Bove was called and he arrived later with a crew to begin the process of repairing the damage that would take months to complete. In order to expedite the repairs, and having earned a level of trust from us by this point, Mr. Bove was given the security codes to the house.

In September of 2015 Mr. Bove suffered a horrific incident that left him hospitalized for some time. We checked in on him regularly and we were happy when he was finally back on his feet again. During this time of healing we helped Mr. Bove out by providing him with smaller more manageable jobs, advancing as well as loaning him money and doing whatever possible to help with his cash flow through this rough time.

In July of 2016 my family and I were out of town when a family friend had asked if they could spend the weekend at my NJ home. When we went to remotely turn on the homes AC unit via our security app we noticed that it was already on, the alarm system disarmed and all of the interior security cameras were obstructed. The outdoor cameras showed opened gates and used towels as well as wine glasses strewn about. Mr. Bove was contacted immediately but denied having been at the house. Sensing something off we let him know that we'd be notifying the police of a break-in at which point Mr. Bove came clean and confessed that he was in fact staying there. My friend then arrived and while Mr. Bove was not there at that moment she discovered all the interior cameras covered with towels and sheets as well as a large suitcase and other items that clearly showed the house had been occupied for some time. Mr. Bove later returned that evening to collect the large suitcase and the rest of his belongings. We informed him to leave the premises and never return and the security codes were changed immediately. To say this was heartbreaking is an understatement especially not knowing that it would soon get worse.

In early June I was contacted by a longtime friend, he was looking at some comic art auctions and was curious as to why I was auctioning a piece that he knew was part of my personal collection and something I would never, ever sell. He sent me a link where I discovered 24 pieces in total from my private collection up for auction including pieces I did long before I was a working professional. While at the moment I'm not at liberty to give the details, investigating this further it turns out that the artwork that was up for auction was all originally purchased from a Mr. Francesco Bove.

Further investigation uncovered that, since the time he was thrown out of my house, at least 185 more pieces of my stolen art were sold at auction and all of it originally purchased directly from Mr. Bove. That's 185 pieces, sold and gone! How much more was sold privately is unknown at the moment but I'm not feeling optimistic.

So why is this news breaking now? As the case was being investigated the Detective in charge discovered Mr. Bove had left the country and had gone to Italy. Upon his return he was arrested which brings us to right now. From what I know so far it's believed that Mr. Bove has sold portions of my art to comic shops, dealers and collectors in Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, as well as parts of Long Island and New Jersey. It could be wider spread than that but I'm not at liberty to say.

And here's the thing that keeps me up at night. These were pieces that I was never intending to sell, art that had deep personal meaning to every member of my family. There was an enormous collection of Archie art from various artists like Stan Goldberg, Harry Lucey, Sam Schwartz but the majority of it by Dan DeCarlo. There were also Laugh Comics pages by Bill Woggon, The Adventures Of Pipsqueak by Walt Lardner as well as Pat The Brat and Shrimpy by Joe Harold and a huge assortment of other artists from the 50s and 60s to today. I lost pages of my own professional art as well as art I purchased from dear and talented friends. But what stings the most is that Mr. Bove took artwork that I had discovered many years ago stored in my father's home after he had passed away. Drawings and paintings I did in elementary school, high school and college. Practice sample pages I had done before ever seriously thinking I could be in comics. This was art I was leaving behind for my daughter just as my father had left it for me. It kills me to think that I'll never get this stuff back now that it's been scattered to the four winds perhaps bought and sold more times than I care to imagine… or possibly even destroyed. So yes, heartbreak after heartbreak. Not only was the thief someone who I trusted, allowed into my home and helped during rough times, but the items he stole in order to keep himself afloat once he realized he irreversibly burned his bridge with me were the ones most irreplaceable and of personal importance.

Now here's the part where I could use your help.

While I'm hopeful that now in custody Mr. Bove may lead the Detectives to the people and locations where he sold the art, perhaps some of you reading this might be able to point the Sparta New Jersey Police Department in the right direction. If you've purchased any art from Mr. Francesco Bove and have it in your possession or know someone who does please contact

Det. Jeffrey McCarrick at (973) 726-4072
Or the Sparta New Jersey Police Department  or on their FB page

You can also reach out to me here on FB as well. Please know that I understand completely that this was sold under false pretenses and I fault no one for not knowing that. All I want is to retrieve as much of the art as I possibly can especially the attached Dan DeCarlo cover for Archie #322 which means the world to me and my family. Unfortunately it has been sold at least twice over that I'm aware of but if you know where I can find it I will gladly purchase it back.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and I'll see ya in the funnybooks.



About Rich Johnston

Head writer and founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world. Living in London, father of two. Political cartoonist.

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