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Renoir Artwork From Flea Market Now Thought Stolen From BMA

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)–Who’s the owner? A rare Renoir painting hangs in the balance, stolen decades ago and then rediscovered by a woman at a flea market.

Kai Jackson has the surprising new developments.

It is a mystery 61 years in the making.

“Museums in this country in general are very well run, and theft is very rare,” said Doreen Bolger, Baltimore Museum of Art director.

A painting by French impressionist artist Renoir created in 1879 was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1951.

At that time it was on loan from Baltimore art collector & heralded donor Saidie May.

“When I heard it was in the flea market, you know I think that is an amazing story,” Bolger said.

The case went cold for decades until 2010 when authorities say a woman, who wants to remain anonymous, bought a painting at a West Virginia flea market for $7.

“I noticed the frame on this picture, and I liked the frame. I bid $7, and I won the box,” she said.

The painting was verified as the stolen Renoir and traced back to the BMA.

It’s a small masterpiece from one of history’s greatest artists.

Now it’s part of a big case currently being investigated by the FBI.

The investigation should determine the rightful owner of this valuable Renoir painting. But the BMA is making it clear they’d like to have it back here in the Saidie May Collection.

“Because it’s an important picture, it belonged to Saidie May, the painting should be wherever it’s supposed to be. And we should help find out that truth,” Bolger said.

The Renoir is at an auction house in Alexandria, Va. while the investigation continues. It’s valued between $75,000 and $100,000.

The BMA says relatives of Saidie May, who owned the Renoir, still live in the Baltimore area.

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