NEW YORK.- The Art Loss Register has recovered a Georges Braque painting, La Théière mauve sur la nappe rayée, 39 years after it was stolen from New York art dealer Richard L. Feigen. The small canvas, painted in 1953, was stolen from Mr. Feigen's gallery on November 12, 1969. Despite the recovery of the picture, the crime remains unsolved. The painting ended up in the hands of a Japanese artist living and working in New York City, who gave it to a friend back in Japan. The painting remained in this individual's private collection for over 25 years. The collector died recently, at which point his son decided to sell his art collection. The Braque painting was consigned to Christie's London in June 2008.
During a routine catalogue check of upcoming Christie's sales, the Art Loss Register flagged the painting. At the time of the incident, the theft was reported to the Art Dealers' Association of America (ADAA). The Art Loss Register, which was not founded until 1991, has logged historic losses such as those reported to the ADAA in the 1960s and 1970s. Mr. Feigen provided a photo of the stolen item to the ADAA, which perfectly matched the item in the catalogue. Once the artwork was identified, it was pulled from the sale.
The Art Loss Register mediated the dispute and was able to negotiate a favorable settlement between all involved parties. In late 2008, the painting was successfully returned to Mr. Feigen's gallery.
It is not uncommon for stolen art to travel great distances. According to the Art Loss Register's statistics, as many as one third of recovered artworks are found in a different country than that of theft. A great lapse of time between theft and recovery is also common. If an artwork is not recovered in the days and weeks following the theft, it often takes a generation for artwork to resurface on the market.
"Many people don't realize that it is never too late to report a stolen item to The Art Loss Register," said the ALR's General Counsel, Christopher A. Marinello. "It may take years for stolen art to resurface, but it WILL resurface eventually, and when it does, we'll be there."
Since its inception, the ALR has recovered over $300 million dollars of stolen or looted art. In addition to recovery services, the ALR offers art dispute mediation and confidential due diligence searches.