An Art Loss Register art historian helped recover a painting stolen from the Buffalo Club at the Palm Beach Fine Arts and Antique Fair earlier this month. The painting, titled "Sleep," was painted by James Carroll Beckwith and reported stolen in 1995. (February 26, 2008)
By Erika Pesantes South Florida Sun-Sentinel
February 27, 2008
A stolen painting recovered at the Palm Beach-America's International Fine Art & Antique Fair is due back in the hands of its rightful owner Monday.
Art historian Erin Culbreth of The Art Loss Register saw the 101-year-old oil painting by J. Carroll Beckwith during a check of pieces in the fair before it opened earlier this month at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach.
The international organization, with offices in Manhattan, lists about 200,000 stolen and missing artworks worldwide in its databases.
The painting, titled Sleep, was reported missing in 1995 by the Buffalo Club. The New York club would not comment Tuesday on its recovery.
The painting is at the Register's Manhattan office until Monday, said Chris Marinello, executive director and general counsel for The Art Loss Register. Then it goes back to the Buffalo Club.
Anne Frances Moore Fine Art Services purchased the artwork in 2005 for $6,000 from auctioneer Doyle New York, Marinello said. Anne Frances Moore had an $80,000 price tag on the painting for the fair, but it was flagged and pulled before opening day on Feb. 1.
"It's a phenomenal work and everyone that had seen it said they wanted to buy it," Marinello said.
The 17-by-21-inch painting shows a young slumbering woman with red lips and cascading curls. Beckwith was a significant Missouri-born artist who drew influences from Europe and worked alongside John Singer Sargent. His works have been showcased at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Detroit Institute of Art and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The fair hired the Register to cross-check about 2,000 fine arts and antiquities against ones in its databases. The fair featured about 400,000 pieces of art from galleries in more than a dozen countries. A vetting committee of museum curators, art scholars and experts also verified the authenticity of the art.
"It's an important part of the service we offer to buyers who come to the fair," its director, Michael Mezzatesta, said. "I'm just happy that we were able to help recover the painting and see it get back to its rightful owner."
The Register lists 259 missing or stolen art pieces from Florida. It has worked on 80 cases in South Florida, including last month's theft of the painting Our Lady of Czestochowa from Mary Immaculate Catholic Church in West Palm Beach. That painting remains missing.
Sleep is the first stolen painting that has shown up at the Palm Beach-America's International Fine Art & Antique Fair since its inception 12 years ago, said Gary Libby, chairman of its vetting committee and director emeritus of the Daytona Museum of Arts & Sciences. This find underscores how important it is for fair officials to scrutinize the authenticity of artworks, he said.
Erika Pesantes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 561-243-6602.