May 12, 2012

Courthouse News Service: "Stolen Pissarro Turns Up with Walrus Tusks, Polar Bear Belts"

On May 3, Purna Nemani reported for the Courthouse News Service that stolen paintings had been found by an undercover wildlife agent in Anchorage, Alaska.

Five stolen works of art found include a chalk study, three watercolors,and an oil painting: "Study of Alexa Wilding," by Dante Gabriel Rossetti; "Milton" by Lucien Pissaro; "Nests at Kilmurry" by Mildred Anne Butler; "Castle and Figures in a Farmland" by William Payne; and "Landscape and Cattle on the Thames" by Henry Garland.  Nemani wrote:
All were originals and/or signed; most were produced in the 19th century and had been auctioned to private sellers at Christies and houses at museums in America and London, accordign to the police report (Bloomfield Police Report) and the federal complaints.  Three of the five works had been reported stolen by a private owner, Nicolette Wernick, and were valued at $68,000, according to the police report and complaint.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife discovered the stolen art in September 2010 in a suspect's home.  According to the forfeiture complaint:
He told the agent how the paintings were stolen by his half-brother, later identified as Mario Murphy, and some other 'cousins,' from the Wernick Collection approximately five years before.
The suspect apparently wanted the undercover agent for the Fish and Wildlife Service to find a buyer for the stolen artwork in exchange for a finder's fee.

Interpol did not list the Lucien Pissarro painting in its Stolen Art Database; the only painting by the artist identified on the list is "Fog over Herblay" stolen from France in 1999.

Nemani reports that 'three of the five paintings were confirmed as stolen through the "Art Loss Register" and are currently in custody of the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


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