MANHATTAN (CN) – Getting closer to cracking a 48-year-old heist of thousands of paintings, the Art Recovery Group announced the return of a missing Parisian street scene by Antoine Blanchard to a New York gallery.
Between 1954 and 1968, an art dealer then working for the Herbert Arnot Gallery exploited his access to the gallery to steal more than 3,000 paintings, the London-based art sleuths said in a statement.
One of the swiped works was “La Porte St. Denis” by Blanchard, the pseudonym of French painter Marcel Masson, known for his cloudy depictions of the City of Lights in the mid-20th century.
After being caught in Chicago, the dealer Louis Edelman went to trial in the Southern District of New York for illegally transporting 256 paintings worth more than $25,000 across state lines. Edelman admitted taking the paintings at trial, but he claimed that he had sold them as part of Arnot’s tax-avoidance scheme.
A federal jury rejected that defense and convicted Edelman of a charge that landed him a two-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine in 1969.
Although the Second Circuit upheld that conviction that same year, the Arnot Gallery has not hunted down all of the missing paintings.
In November, the London-based Art Recovery Group learned that an unnamed Miami gallery had offered “La Porte St. Denis” for sale.
The work had been consigned to the gallery by a building contractor who had accepted the painting as payment for maintenance work, according to the statement.
The Art Recovery Group’s CEO Christopher Marinello said in a statement that the discovery marked the third Blanchard work he recovered for the Arnot Gallery – and the second within the past two years.
“With every recovery it feels like we’re a step closer to making right this decades-old crime,” he added.
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