FBI investigates mystery of the flea market Renoir
Saturday 29 September 2012
An auction house in Virginia has cancelled the sale of a Renoir painting bought at a flea market for $7 (£4), because it suspects the work was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art decades ago.
The painting, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Paysage Bords de Seine (Landscape on the Banks of the Seine) was to have gone under the hammer today at Potomack auctioneers but ownership questions halted the sale.
A woman apparently bought the signed French Impressionist painting at a West Virginia flea market a year or two ago, hoping the frame would be of some use.
She ignored the artwork itself until it turned up again while she was house-cleaning and decided to have it valued. The auctioneers verified it as a Renoir and estimated its worth at $75,000 to $100,000.
The Baltimore Museum of Art said its records indicated it was stolen while on loan to the museum in 1951.
Potomack said the painting had not turned up when it checked a database of stolen and lost art. The FBI is now investigating.
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