There’s good news and bad news. Your new Motherwell painting is real, but it’s stolen

News about four painting stolen from a Madison Avenue gallery in 1988 that were just recovered. As I explain on the New York Times artsblog:

Figuration by Robert Motherwell“When a German art conservator recently sought to authenticate an early painting by Robert Motherwell that she had inherited, the director of the artist’s New York foundation told her there was both good news and bad news. The work, “Figuration,” a charming 1947 oil on masonite, was real. But, the art conservator was told, the painting was stolen.

On Friday the Motherwell, along with three other paintings that were stolen from a Madison Avenue gallery in 1988, and now valued at $1 million, were recovered by police in Cologne, Germany, and turned over to the Art Loss Register, a private database of lost and stolen art. The works were part of a batch of a half dozen contemporary paintings that were swiped from the now-defunct Solomon Gallery during a weekend theft. One, a painting by Karel Appel, was recovered in 2003 when the owner, a German dealer, tried to get it authenticated. According to Christopher A. Marinello, executive director and general counsel of the register, the dealer said he had bought the painting during a trip to New York City but refused to reveal the seller’s identity. A lawyer handled all the negotiations, so the German dealer’s name was never disclosed to law enforcement.

When the dealer died in 2009, he left four other paintings that were part of the same 1988 heist to his children. “The problem will not simply disappear with the passage of time,” Mr. Marinello said. “Leaving stolen artworks to the next generation is a losing proposition….”

You can read the whole blog item here.



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