AP NEWS

Burglary at Tony Buzbee’s mansion amassed $21 million in stolen goods

May 6, 2019

Two men stole about $21 million worth of items from Houston mayoral hopeful Tony Buzbee during a burglary the morning after a Super Bowl party at his River Oaks estate, a prosecutor said.

One of the accused thieves, 36-year-old Nicholas Johnson, appeared in court on Monday as a prosecutor read details of the Feb. 4 break-in which woke Buzbee from his sleep.

Buzbee wrote on Facebook at the time that he confronted the men with a gun, which misfired. They fled, and police only made a break in the case after a female tipster called the prominent Houston attorney, who had posted a $50,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

The caller said the second suspect, 33-year-old Julian Franklin, had tried selling her a Rolex watch taken from Buzbee’s home. He also showed her photos of paintings, at least one of which was valued at $5 million, according to the prosecutor.

At some point, Franklin tried selling the woman a second watch. She negotiated a price on some of the stolen goods as police listened in on a phone call.

Prosecutors said the stolen items amassed $21 million, among them works of famed painters Claude Monet and Pablo Picasso. In total, they took two computers, six pieces of fine art, two guns, a ring and 30 watches, according to court documents detailing Johnson’s arrest.

Johnson and Franklin were arrested last week on theft and burglary of a habitation charges, respectively. Johnson was on deferred adjudication for drug possession at the time of his arrest.

Both of the men were denied bail.

samantha.ketterer@chron.com

Twitter.com/sam_kett