Lost and Found Paintings

By: Philip Nicosia

We often hear from the news about paintings by famous artists being auctioned at greater value – in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes, millions of dollars. And then the next news we get is that renowned paintings have been stolen in the different parts of the world. Perhaps, some people are just so obsessed with getting those paintings for monetary gain thinking they can get away with it. Thanks to hardworking law enforcers and the FBI, those masterpieces have been traced, recovered and returned to the place where they truly belong.

The latest news on lost and found paintings concerns Francisco de Goya’s “Children With a Cart” painting. After being stolen last November while on its way to New York from the Toledo Museum in Ohio, the painting that features children at play finally joined an exhibit of Spanish masterpieces at the Solomon Guggenheim Museum in New York mid-February this year. The painting got stolen on the night the drivers, in charge of delivering it to New York, stopped over at a motel in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. They apparently left the artwork unattended and found it missing the following morning. Thanks to a good Samaritan, authorities were informed of its whereabouts in New Jersey within ten days after being stolen.

After its recovery, the painting was returned to the Ohio museum undamaged before it was lent to the Guggenheim Museum for the show dubbed “Spanish Painting From El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth and History” to run for six weeks. The “Children With A Cart” was painted by Goya in 1778 and shows four kids one of whom is blowing a horn and another with his back to the viewer. It is insured for $1 million.

Goya’s masterpiece was lucky to have been recovered in only a few months’ time. Previously, two paintings by Edvard Munch were also stolen from a museum in Oslo, Norway in 2004 and were found after two years of hunting in 2006. The paintings “Scream” and “Madonna” were forcibly taken in August 2004 from the Munch Museum by two armed men and were recovered during a police operation. Police believed the paintings never left Norway since they were stolen. The ”Scream” was painted in 1893 and is a world-renowned work of art.

If Munch’s paintings took two years to be found, we have one story that took eight long years to be recovered. The two paintings of Turner, both considered 19th century biblical works, were stolen from the Schim Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany in 1994 while on being lent to the show of Goethe and the Visual Arts. The artworks “Shade and Darkness” and “Light and Color” are among Turner’s most important paintings that showed reference to Goethe’s theories of color.

Still another painting illegally taken from the Hermitage Museum six years ago has been returned to the Russian museum where it belongs. The painting titled “La Piscine Du Harem” (Harem Pool) was done by French artist Jean-Leon Gerome during the 19th century. It vanished from the museum in March 2001 and was brought by an unidentified man at the Communist Party offices in Moscow last December 2006. Unluckily, the painting had been severely damaged. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia is home to one of the finest art and artifact collection in the whole world.

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