Local News in Brief : No-Contest Plea in Theft

A Huntington Park pawnbroker pleaded no contest Wednesday to charges he tried to sell a $300,000 modernist painting stolen from a gallery at the Ambassador Hotel in 1981, authorities said.

Robert Singer, 49, had somehow come into possession of the 1937 painting, "Christ" by French modernist Georges Rouault, and offered to sell the artwork to the Beverly Hills branch of Christie's auction house last July, prosecutors said.

It was discovered that the painting was stolen from the Dalzell Hatfield Gallery at the Ambassador after the piece was sent to New York for auction processing. Christie's experts placed its value at $300,000.

After entering his no-contest plea before Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Horowitz, Singer was ordered to return to court for sentencing Feb. 9, Deputy Dist. Atty. Julie Sulman said. Singer faces at least five years probation, she said.

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