Stolen Matisse painting found in UK

7 January 2013

‘Le Jardin’ A Henri Matisse painting worth $1m stolen from the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm 22 years ago has been recovered in Essex, UK by the Art Loss Register in London.

‘Le Jardin’ (The Garden) was made by the French artist Henri Matisse (1869 - 1954) in 1920. In the early hours of 11 May 1987, a burglar smashed his way into the museum with a sledgehammer, escaping with Matisse's ‘Le Jardin’ just moments before museum security arrived on the scene. The theft was reported to both Interpol and the Art Loss Register (ALR) who has been searching the art market for the last 22 years. The ALR is the world's largest international private database of stolen, missing and looted artwork.

According to reports at the time, several attempts were made to ransom the painting or sell it back to the museum for exorbitant sums. For the next two decades, the trail apparently went cold and the whereabouts of the painting remained a mystery.

A few weeks ago, art dealer Charles Roberts of Charles Fine Art in Essex was offered the painting by a Polish collector. Mr Roberts ran a search on the Art Loss Register and found the painting listed. Once the painting was identified ARL’s executive director and general counsel Christopher A. Marinello negotiated the artwork's recovery.

Marinello hopes to return the Matisse to the museum through the Swedish Ministry of Culture in the coming weeks.

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