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Stolen Art Found in Obscure Places

Feb 19, 08

Art Fortune | Art Discoveries


(Newser Summary) – The four 19th-century paintings stolen from a Swiss museum have reportedly been found in an unlocked car parked outside a Zurich psychiatric hospital. Although police have not yet confirmed the find, Swiss media are reporting that the $168 million worth of loot—one work each by Cézanne, Degas, Monet, and van Gogh—has been recovered. The paintings were stolen by masked gunmen on February 10.


Because of their fame, the works would have been impossible to sell on the open market. Moreover, police presume that the paintings were not stolen to order, since the four canvases hung next to each other at the Emile Bührle Foundation, a private museum on the shore of Lake Zurich. One of the snatched works, Cézanne's Boy in the Red Vest, was the museum's most valuable piece.



Stolen Aboriginal art found in Australian bushland


An Aboriginal painting titled "Medicine Story" by Uta Uta Tjangala, one of seven paintings (3 are pictured) stolen from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, is seen in this undated handout photograph obtained April 1, 2008. Seven historic Aboriginal paintings were found in bushland in the northern Australian city of Darwin, several hours after they were stolen from a Northern Territory art gallery, police said on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)


Stolen painting worth $1 million found in trash

Woman recovered 1970 artwork by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo


“I know nothing of modern art but it didn’t seem right for any piece of art to be discarded like that,” Elizabeth Gibson said after finding “Tres Personajes.”



NEW YORK - A painting stolen more than 20 years ago was found lying in trash along a street, and now it could fetch up to $1 million at an auction.


Elizabeth Gibson didn’t know anything about the brightly colored work she spotted on her morning walk four years ago on Manhattan’s upper West Side, but she said she took it home because “it had a strange power.”


“I know nothing of modern art but it didn’t seem right for any piece of art to be discarded like that,” Gibson told the Sotheby’s auction house.



Abe's Trash Service Finds Owner of Stolen Art


Abe's trash driver has a good eye for art.  After seeing the photo released by the police of a statue that had been stolen and taken apart, Jeff Hanika knew he had seen the art work while driving his trash route and that the owner was a customer of Abe's Trash Service though he could not remember the address.  As he was driving his usual route, he identified the home where the statue belonged.  Coincidentally, the owner emerged from his home just then and had not been aware of the theft of his statue until advised by Jeff Hanika.  The owner was not happy to learn that his $5,000 statue had been taken apart for scrap metal valued at $50



Medieval Cross Found In Trash Can

Austrian Woman Had Stashed Valuable Artifact Behind Her Couch


(AP)  A cross dating to the Middle Ages has turned up in a trash bin in Austria, police said Thursday.


A woman looking for old crockery in a trash container in the western Austrian town of Zell am See stumbled upon the precious piece in 2004, Salzburg police said. She apparently had no idea what she had found. She took the cross home and stashed it behind her couch.


Now experts say the cross could be worth as much as $536,620. A local museum has custody of it, at least for the moment. Whether the trash-foraging woman, who has not been identified, will get so much as a penny for her find has yet to be determined.


She found the cross after a hotel owner who lived in Zell am See died and his home was being cleared by relatives, the Austria Press Agency quoted police official Christian Krieg as saying. The woman showed the cross to the niece of the dead man, but the niece didn't want it and allowed the woman to take it, the news agency reported.


Last month, one of the woman's neighbors had an inkling the cross might be something special and took it to a local museum in the village of Leogang.


The curator, Hermann Mayrhofer, alerted police. An investigation revealed that, until World War II, the cross had been part of a Polish art collection belonging to Izabella Elzbieta of Czartoryski Dzialinska.


Before the outbreak of war, Elzbieta tried to hide the piece from the Nazis by concealing it in the cellar of a building in Warsaw. But the Nazis found it in 1941 and later brought it, along with other items from Elzbieta's collection, to a castle in Austria. It is unclear what happened next.


This summer, the cross was taken to Vienna for analysis but it has now been returned to the museum in Leogang. Experts at Vienna's fine arts museum determined that it comes from Limoges, France, and dates to about 1200.


Police said similar pieces have been auctioned for up to $536,620.


In a telephone interview with The Associated Press, Mayrhofer said that he knew straight away that the cross came from Limoges and praised the woman for salvaging it.


"She did something extraordinary," Mayrhofer said.


But he said he couldn't comment on whether the woman would receive any money for her find, adding that the museum would keep the piece until the case is cleared up.


A judge in Zell am See has decided that for now the cross should be kept in the museum security. Mayrhofer said it would soon be included in a special exhibit at the museum.


The London-based Commission for Looted Art in Europe is representing the heirs of the former owner of the cross, police said.



Drawing Of Masterpiece Found In Trash


A Stolen 1840 Eugene Delacroix Drawing, Valued At $45,000, Is Found In The Garbage, Returned To Gallery



A man returned the sketch "Entry of the Crusaders Into Constantinople" by Eugene Delacroix to the Milwaukee gallery on June 8, 2007, after he said he found it in the trash.  (AP Photo/ Carrie Antlfinger)


(AP)  A Eugene Delacroix drawing of one of his own paintings that hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris has been returned to a gallery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, nearly two years after it was stolen.


A man walked into DeLind Gallery of Fine Art on Friday afternoon and said he found the drawing in the trash, gallery director Michael Goforth said.


“I was literally crying when he returned this,” Goforth said. “It's irreplaceable. It's a French national treasure.”


The sepia drawing is called “Entry of the Crusaders Into Constantinople.” Delacroix, a French romantic artist, drew the battle scene around 1840 as a study for a larger painting that hangs in the Louvre in Paris. The drawing was priced at $45,000 and had been owned by a private collector who gave it to the gallery on consignment.


A man who frequented the gallery was the only visitor there when the drawing was taken in July 2005, Goforth said.


Shortly after the man left, Goforth went to photograph the drawing for a prospective customer, he said. But the drawing was gone from the easel sitting on a table in another room.


Goforth was the only person working when the theft occurred. The gallery, which had no cameras at the time, has since upgraded its security, owner Bill DeLind said, declining to elaborate.


Police sent a detective to investigate, but because Goforth did not see the man steal the drawing, authorities could not search his residence, he said.


DeLind said he suspected the thief was someone he knew who had been leaving him messages and putting on his car fliers that contained a picture of the drawing and the words: “Have you seen this artwork?”


On Friday afternoon, another man walked into the gallery and told Goforth he found the drawing in the trash with the gallery's name on it, described the drawing to Goforth and asked him what he would give him for it.


Goforth knew it was the Delacroix piece and offered $100. The man left and returned with the drawing, asking Goforth not to involve police. Goforth agreed and gave him the money.


Milwaukee police Capt. Christopher Domagalski confirmed Friday night that a theft occurred at the gallery on July 21, 2005, and said the case was still open. He said police had not heard from the gallery.


At the time of the theft, the gallery's insurance company reimbursed the collector who lent it to the gallery. Goforth said he planned to contact the insurance company Monday and expected it to ask the gallery to sell the drawing for them.


He said he had no doubt the drawing was the original. “I knew it was the real deal right when I laid eyes on it,” Goforth said.


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