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Stolen Renoir Painting Back At The BMA 6 Decades Later

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Alex DeMetrick has been a general assignment reporter with WJZ...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Stolen half a century ago, a painting by Renoir is back where it belongs in Baltimore.

Alex DeMetrick reports who stole it remains a mystery, although one with a happy ending for Baltimore’s Museum of Art.

It received red carpet attention–an impressionist painting by Renoir of the River Seine, done a linen napkin. The back story:

“It was stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art nearly 63 years ago and it’s now back in our galleries for everyone to enjoy,” said Doreen Bolger, director of the BMA.

It’s not known who stole the painting in 1951. Originally done by Renoir in 1879 for his mistress, it was purchased by collector Sadie May in the 1920s, who later loaned it to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

Decades after its theft, the painting resurfaced in 2012, when a Virginia woman said she bought it at a flea market for $7.

“Wherever it had been, it had been well cared for, so we were thrilled about that,” said Katy Rothkopf, BMA senior curator.

Also on display–some of the legal documents that helped the museum win back the painting in federal court earlier this year.

“It’s not every day that you get a wonderful impressionist painting added to your collection, so we are feeling very celebratory,” said Bolger.

News coverage of the painting’s long journey home could make for an even happier ending.

“We’re very thrilled that this has gotten so much attention and we hope it will bring a lot of people to the museum,” Bolger said.

It goes on view to the public starting this Sunday.

When it was stolen, the painting was valued at $2,500. The museum will not say what it is worth today.

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