We wrote a few weeks ago about a lucky flea market find, when a woman scored a Renoir painting for only $7 (although at the time it was also reported to be $60, but either way, cheap) but it turns out the painting may in fact have been stolen over 60 years ago. The Baltimore Museum of Art believes the rare artwork was boosted while it was on loan from one of the museum’s honored donors.
“Museums in this country in general are very well run, and theft is very rare,” the Baltimore Museum of Art director tells CBS Baltimore. “When I heard it was in the flea market, you know I think that is an amazing story,” she added.
The painting in question was done in 1879 and lifted from the BMA in 1951. The case was cold until the woman picked it up at a West Virginia flea market, attracted by its frame instead of the art inside.
Unfortunately for her, she likely won’t get to keep it as the FBI is investigating its theft to find the rightful owner. The BMA would love to have it back as part of the collection of paintings it has from the donor. The painting is valued anywhere between $75,000 and $100,000, and is currently hanging out at an auction house while the investigation is ongoing.
Even if the woman can’t keep the painting or get some money for it, at least she can say she’s held a Renoir in her very own hands. That’s worth something.
Renoir Artwork From Flea Market Now Thought Stolen From BMA [CBS Baltimore]