Stolen Painting Found After 21 Years - NBC New York

Stolen Painting Found After 21 Years

A $100,000 Paul Klee painting stolen from a Manhattan gallery has been recovered.



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    "Portrait in a Garden" is a gouache on paper, oil painting valued at $100,000.

    A $100,000 painting by Swiss artist Paul Klee has been recovered 21 years after it was stolen from a Manhattan gallery. The painting “Portrait in the Garden” was reported missing from the Marlborough Art Gallery in 1989.

    A Montreal gallery owner, Robert Landau, turned over the 1930 painting to U.S. authorities after he became suspicious when a Florida man tried to sell it to him.

    "Once we found out it was stolen, we called Homeland Security in Washington," Landau said. "We don't deal in stolen art."

    According to law enforcement, in December 2009 a man claiming to be an art dealer approached Landau at the Art Basel art fair in Miami Beach, and offered to sell the painting. After Landau said he would not be able to evaluate the authenticity on the spot, the man sent the painting to Montreal with the understanding that Landau would purchase it after confirming its authenticity.

    When Landau discovered that the painting had been stolen, he turned it in to U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

    The U.S. authorities then handed the painting over to the London-based Art Loss Register, which maintains a database of 350,000 stolen artworks.

    "He was very honorable," said Christopher Marinello, executive director of the Art Loss. "We wish that every dealer were like the Landau Gallery and that they searched before they bought everything."

    “Portrait in the Garden,” which shows a woman figure surrounded by flowers, will be up for auction by Christie’s, a fine arts auction house in the city.

    Pat Reilly, an ICE spokeswoman, said that the investigation is still ongoing.