U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema awarded the painting to the BMA at the expense of the woman who dubbed herself “Renoir Girl,” ending a bizarre art drama that generated coverage from the Los Angeles Times to “Good Morning America.” The decision wiped out a potential six-figure windfall for Loudoun County driving instructor Martha Fuqua, who claimed that in 2009 she found “On the Shore of the Seine” in a box containing a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll.
“Darn,” said Fuqua, 51, when she was contacted by phone after the ruling. Asked if she was disappointed, she said, “Of course,” before hanging up. She didn’t attend Friday’s hearing, which was filled with stolen-art rubberneckers and reporters.
Her tale initially burst into the headlines in September 2012, when Fuqua, then identified only as Renoir Girl, tried auctioning off the 51 / 2-by-9-inch landscape, which she hoped would sell for as much as $100,000. In the run-up to the auction, two things were known about the painting: The piece had been bought at a Paris art gallery in 1926 by Herbert L. May, the husband of Saidie May, a prominent BMA donor. And the painting somehow had gone missing since May’s purchase. Initially, the BMA said it had no record of the painting ever being in its possession.
But days before the sale at the Potomack Company in Alexandria, a Washington Post reporter found evidence in the BMA’s own records that the May family had donated the painting to the museum in 1937. Armed with those records, BMA officials made an unexpected discovery: a loan registration document showing that the painting was reported stolen from a November 1951 exhibition. Baltimore police unearthed a copy of the original police report.
The FBI took possession of the Renoir from the auction house, stored it in a climate-controlled room in its Northern Virginia field office in Manassas and asked the federal court to determine who should own it.
Since then, a number of people who know Fuqua have cast doubt on her flea market story, including her brother. Some family acquaintances told The Post that they remember seeing the Renoir in the 1980s and 1990s at the Fairfax County home of her mother, Marcia Fouquet, who attended art college in Baltimore at the time of the painting’s theft in 1951. (The mother passed away five months ago at the age of 85.)
During Friday’s court hearing, the BMA argued that regardless of whether Fuqua found the Renoir at a flea market, no one can have legal title to stolen artwork.
Brinkema agreed in her ruling, granting summary judgment in favor of the BMA. She said the museum had overwhelming evidence that the painting had been stolen in November 1951 and that Fuqua offered not a “scintilla” of proof to the contrary.
Brinkema’s decision cancels a trial that had been scheduled for next week and wipes out what could have been a useful windfall for Fuqua, who in 2009 filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of more than $400,000.
Fuqua’s attorney, T. Wayne Biggs, argued in court that the BMA’s evidence — the police report and other decades-old museum records — needed proper authentication to be admissable. But Brinkema said that the BMA furnished a mountain of evidence that “clearly reflected” that the item had been pilfered.
Biggs declined to comment after the hearing.
Doreen Bolger, the BMA’s director, said she was “delighted” by the judge’s decision. She likened the painting’s return to a “prodigal son who’s been lost for 60 years” and is finally coming home. “I’m just glad to have it over and to have the decision be so clear-cut.”
Marla Diaz, the BMA’s attorney, said that Fuqua can appeal the judge’s decision but doubted whether she would.
Matt Fuqua, Martha’s brother, who attended the hearing, was elated by the judge’s ruling and stood outside the courthouse before a bank of television cameras, giving interviews.
Before she died, his mother had urged Martha to return to the painting to the BMA, he said. “My mother wanted this.”
He said he suspects that the painting was given to his mother long ago as a gift, but she never revealed where it came from. The FBI declined to comment on its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the painting’s theft and alleged appearance at a flea market.
Bolger said the BMA plans to exhibit “On the Shore of the Seine” as soon as March, as part of an exhibition of works bequeathed by Saidie May. The museum is debating whether to make available for visitors printouts of news stories about the Renoir case so they can view the piece and read its back story at the same time.
Asked if the museum would be taking special care to ensure that the piece would not be stolen again, Bolger said that no one need worry. That painting, Bolger stressed, will not escape the BMA’s hands.
“It’ll be anchored to the wall,” she said.
Onetime aide to Imelda Marcos sentenced to up to six year in prison after plotting to sell $32 million Claude Monet painting
- Artwork vanished in 1986 amid President Ferdinand Marcos' overthrow
- His wife's disgraced secretary Vilma Bautista sold it to pay for debts
- Work is part of lengthy roster of property the Philippines wants back
- Former first lady Imelda was infamous for her massive shoe collection
Disgraced secretary Vilma Bautista was convicted of illegally selling the 1899 painting titled Japanese Footbridge Over Water Lily Pond in Giverny from Mrs Marcos' vast collection.
The artwork vanished in 1986 amid President Ferdinand Marcos’ overthrow and ended up in Bautista’s hands.
It is part of a multibillion-dollar roster of property the Philippines government claims the Marcoses acquired with the nation's cash, prosecutors said.
Bautista plans to appeal and has 'substantial issues' to raise, defense attorneys Susan and Fran Hoffinger said after the sentencing.
Bautista also was ordered to pay about $3.5 million in state taxes. She was convicted in November of charges including conspiracy and tax fraud.
The case 'finally solves the mystery of what happened to four masterpieces of Impressionist art,' Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said then.
The 1899 Monet, from the French painter's famed 'Water Lilies' series, and other art ended up in Bautista's hands after vanishing when a 1986 'people power' revolt sent longtime President Ferdinand Marcos into exile in Hawaii. He died three years later.
During his two decades in power, his wife became known for excess, symbolized by her huge collection of shoes.
The Philippines claims the Marcoses acquired billions of dollars' worth of property with the nation's money. The country has spent years seizing companies, bank accounts and other assets believed to be part of that trove.
The Marcoses denied their wealth was ill-gotten, and Imelda Marcos has emerged relatively unscathed from hundreds of legal cases against her and her late husband. She is now a congresswoman in the Philippines.
Bautista was a foreign service officer assigned to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations and later served as Imelda Marcos' New York-based personal secretary.
By 2009, Bautista was mired in debt, and prosecutors said she resorted to trying to sell four paintings the Marcoses had acquired during the presidency. Besides the water lily painting, they included another Monet and works by Alfred Sisley and Albert Marquet.
Bautista ultimately sold the water lily painting - 'Le Bassin aux Nymphease,' also known as 'Japanese Footbridge Over the Water-Lily Pond at Giverny' - for $32 million to a Swiss buyer. Some proceeds went to Bautista's debts, relatives and associates, and $15 million stayed in her bank accounts, prosecutors said.
They said Imelda Marcos, who didn't testify at Bautista's trial, knew nothing of the sale.
Bautista's lawyers said she believed that Imelda Marcos rightfully owned the paintings and that Bautista had authority to sell them for her. Bautista never had a chance to give Marcos the money, the defense said.
The artworks' ownership is being determined in civil courts.
Gold pocket watches recovered in Royal B.C. Museum heist
The suspects, a 44-year-old Port Alberni man (formerly of Colwood) and a 29-year-old Port Alberni woman, were both arrested by Port Alberni RCMP earlier this week at the request of VicPD.
VicPD used a fingerprint left at the scene to trace the crime back to the Colwood man, while the eight pocket watches "had gone through a number of different hands" before officers tracked them down locally, said Sgt. Colin Brown of VicPD's Crime Reduction Unit.
"In this particular case, it's a crime of opportunity," Brown said at a press conference Thursday. "But there was definitely some thought that went into it. It's not like the museum didn't have good security in place, they did, but you can tell, even though (the suspects) are not the most sophisticated people, they've certainly been involved in thefts in the past."
Brown said the pocket watches were likely traded for drugs or cash before the couple left Victoria for Port Alberni, and said police worked quickly to recover them through local sources.
RBCM CEO Jack Lohman called the incident a "very rare occurrence," and praised VicPD for tracking down the valuable artifacts so quickly.
"I've worked with museums all around the world … where there hasn't been this great speed of work (by police)," Lohman said.
Bill Chimko, RBCM's head of security, said the watches were stolen from a secured glass case in the Old Town exhibit on the museum's third floor during operating hours, but refused to go into further detail. He said security measures are being adjusted as a result of the theft.
The RBCM maintains a collection of 106 pocket watches amongst its seven-million objects, Lohman said. He couldn't speculate on the value of the items.
Brian Gerald Holt and Stacy Croft are each facing a charge of theft over $5,000.
The recovered items are listed as follows:
- Gold pocket watch. RBCM 2002.51.1: "Repeater" model, very unusual among watches. It chimed the quarter hour for HBC Captain James Gaudin, c. 1870. Jeweled. Quarter hour repeater sounds by pushing down - away from stem - on small tab on right hand side of watch). Owned by Captain James Gaudin, Captain of HBC sailing barque Lady Lampson, which travelled between London and Victoria in the 1870's. Rear of case frame inscribed “Captain James Gaudin/St Martins/Jersey”
- Railroad watch in a Hunter case., c. 1890. RBCM 977.29.12a, 12b
- Waltham watch, Bartlett movement, 1903. RBCM 965.2224.1
- Waltham watch belonging to Bill Miner, BC’s last train robber. RBCM 963.27.1: Pocket watch belonging to Bill Miner. Movement made 1901, prior to Bill Miner's train robberies of 1904. May have been left behind when he escaped from BC Pen, in New Westminster, in 1907.
- Pocket watch with gold vest chain. Waltham, 1891. RBCM 976.56.1
- Cashier’s pocket watch. American Watch, 1911. RBCM 971.38.1a & 1b
- Gold pocket watch. Movado, Switzerland, 1905-1910. RBCM 999.78.13
- Gold watch with diamonds. Waltham, 1900. RBCM 999.78.17: Small
gold pocket watch owned by John Williams Spencer, of the David Spencer
department store chain. The front cover is engraved with the initials
Paintings worth $200,000 stolen from Tiny Township home
Two paintings valued at $200,000 stolen from home in Tiny Township. (OPP Handout)Police are investigating after two painting were taken from a home in Tiny Township.
The Southern Georgian Bay detachment of the OPP were called to the home on the 15th concession just before 8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 18th, 2013 after receiving a call from an alarm monitoring company.
When officers arrived they found that two paintings were stolen from the home sometime between Monday Dec. 16, 2013 and Wednesday Dec. 18, 2013.
The paintings, which measure 8’ and 3’, were painted by artist “Morrisseau” and are valued at $200,000.
ANTIQUE jewellery worth £40,000 has been stolen after a break-in at a store in Edinburgh.
Shapes Interior Design and Furniture store on Bankhead Medway was broken into in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Thieves made off with a haul of valuables including several distinctive gold and diamond rings.
Police are now appealing for witnesses following the high value break-in, described as a “brazen” crime.
Detective Constable Joyce Gunderson from Police Scotland said: “This was a brazen crime which has led to the theft of antique jewellery worth thousands of pounds, being stolen.
“We are appealing to anyone who was in the area around the time of the incident, who noticed anything suspicious, to contact police as a matter of urgency.
“Similarly anyone who believes they have been offered the stolen items for sale, or has any other information that can assist our inquiries, should also get in touch.”
Father and daughter of works of art thieves: steal a 'Guido Reni'ilrestodelcarlino.it / bologna/cronaca/2014/01/09/1007621-rubate-opere-arte-guido-reni.shtml
BolognaAmounted to € 100 thousand the value of the stolen goods taken away from a building in the historic center New Year's Eve and moved into an apartment on Via Collegio di SpagnaArt for around 100 thousand Euros in value, stolen New Year's Eve and hidden in an apartment, a short walk from the house from which they had been stolen. It's the 'booty', recovered yesterday and in record time, from the core protection of the cultural heritage of the Carabinieri Bologna, who also arrested a father and a daughter, 47 and 27 years for receiving stolen goods.The two Calabrian transplanted in the city ', in New Year's Eve had entered a house in the center and stole a painting by Guido Reni, eleven other ancient paintings of the Bolognese school of the sixteenth century, two ancient vases in ceramic and glass, three watches antique table including a Parisian bronze three watches of high quality and 24 items of miscellaneous varies.The value of stolen property recovered is around 100 thousand Euros.To make known are the Police, who yesterday raided an apartment, arrested the 'little family' that now will be 'processed for summary and recovered the stolen goods, which will be back' in the hands of its rightful owners.The police arrived at the two thanks to the antique dealer who had been contacted for the assignment. Man and 'suspicious, and in recent days has notified the military, which yesterday raided a building in Via Collegio di Spagna where the three had gathered to view the works. The theft and 'was committed on the night of December 31 in the Piazza San Giovanni in Monte. The thieves climbed on scaffolding and had forced a window.400 million in stolen paintings in Romanian flat
In a flat in the Romanian city of Sibiu are 22 paintings found with an estimated value of 400 million euros. The paintings were stolen from chapels in Italy ten years ago.The value of the collection of works from the Renaissance is estimated by the police at least 400 million euros. But experts say the oil paintings are worth much more even. The oldest works are from the 15th century.The Romanian police entered the collection by accident on the track after a search of the apartment, because the resident was suspected of theft of icons from Romanian churches. The agents found in the house many paintings and made it international reporting. Then the Italian police came into action, who traveled to Romania.
A historic silver chalice and patens stolen from the library at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast on October 10 have been recovered.
The Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann, yesterday said: “Needless to say that I am delighted and relieved to hear that the stolen cathedral silver plate has been found, and that St Anne’s will have it back soon.
“These communion vessels are important to us, not for their monetary worth, which is comparatively small, but for their historic and sacramental connection with the cathedral worshipping community, and to the old St Anne’s church which stood on the site before the cathedral was built.”
A PSNI spokesman said: “Following a report from a member of the public, the silver chalice and patens reported stolen from St Anne’s Cathedral have been recovered by police, identified by staff from the cathedral and in due course will be returned to the cathedral.”