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Cortlandt Troopers: Man Finds Artist Friend Dead, Steals Artwork

The artist, identified as Ronald Cutrone of Lake Peekskill, collaborated with Andy Warhol and lived alone, according to officials.

Hiram Noel Mendez of Cortandt Manor is facing misdemeanor and felony charges. (Credit: New York State Police)
Hiram Noel Mendez of Cortandt Manor is facing misdemeanor and felony charges. (Credit: New York State Police)
When Hiram Noel Mendez paid a visit to an artist friend and found him dead, Mendez stole several pieces of artwork before dialing 911, state police said.

Members of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation at the Cortlandt barracks arrested Mendez, a 35-year-old Cortlandt Manor resident, Tuesday, after a probe that lasted nearly five months.

Mendez contacted authorities July 20 and reported Ronald Cutrone deceased at his Lake Drive residence in Lake Peekskill.

"Mr. Cutrone was an artist who collaborated with Andy Warhol and lived alone," officials said in a statement. "State police allege that Mendez discovered Cutrone dead and left the residence before contacting authorities. At some point, he returned back to the residence and stole several pieces of artwork before eventually calling 911 several hours later."

Cutrone died at 65. He was a nightclub impresario and longtime assistant to Andy Warhol, according to this New York Times obituary. His death is not considered suspicious, according to police. Officials are awaiting toxicology reports to determine the cause. 

Mendez is facing a felony charge of second-degree burglary, as well as misdemeanor charges of petty larceny and second-degree obstruction of governmental administration.

Following arraignment before Judge Louis DiCarlo in Putnam Valley Justice Court, Mendez was sent to the Putnam County Correctional Facility on $25,000 bail. He is due back today (Dec. 12).

Some of the artwork has been recovered by the state police, but several pieces are still missing. Officials are asking anyone with information to call 914-737-7171. All calls will be kept confidential. 

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