MANHATTAN (CN) – Barbara Castelli claims in court that the Roy Lichtenstein painting “Electric Cord,” which was stolen from her and her art-dealer husband in 1970, resurfaced in Colombia and has been brought back to New York to be sold.
Castelli, widow of the art dealer Leo Castelli, sued Hayes NY Business LLC dba Hayes Storage Warehouse, seeking return of the painting, in New York County Supreme Court. She claims the warehouse is holding the painting “as agent for defendant John Doe.”
Castelli says her husband acquired the 1961 Lichtenstein painting in the 1960s, but when it was sent to be cleaned in 1970 it disappeared.
She says they registered the theft with the Art Loss Register, the world’s largest database of lost and stolen art.
Castelli says the artwork “recently resurfaced in an art gallery in Bogota, Colombia before being brought back into the State of New York as part of a sale attempt.”
Unfortunately, the third page of the complaint is missing from the copy filed with the court. New York County Supreme Court now requires electronic filing, so the missing eight paragraphs could not be obtained from a visit to the courthouse.
Castelli wants to be declared the rightful owner of the artwork, and wants it back, with damages, exemplary damages and attorney fees.
She is represented by Perry Amsellem.
The New York Post reported that Leo Castelli bought the black and white painting for $750. It depicts an electric cord, wound and tied with itself.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that a judge ordered the storage company not to sell or move the painting until a hearing next week.
Lichtenstein’s painting “Sleeping Girl” sold for $44.8 million at Sotheby’s in May, Castelli says in her complaint. The Times reported that the value of “Electric Cord” has been estimated at $4 million.