BALTIMORE (WJZ) — New twists in an ongoing mystery over who owns a valuable painting that disappeared from the Baltimore Museum of Art nearly 60 years ago.
Alex DeMetrick reports the woman who says she bought it at a flea market for $7 is not who she originally claimed to be.
Renoir painted a landscape on the banks of the Seine in 1879. In the 1920s, Baltimore collector Sadie Mae bought it, eventually displaying it at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It later vanished.
“The painting was last seen on view at the museum in 1951,” said Doreen Bolger, BMA Director.
Until last year, when a woman who would only say she was from Baltimore claimed to have bought it at a flea market for $7.
“I noticed the frame on this picture and I liked the frame. I bid $7 and I won the box,” the woman said.
It turns out that woman actually lives down the road in Virginia, and court records say she is Marcia Martha Fuqua.
The FBI is investigating ownership and according to the Washington Post, Fuqua wrote the FBI saying she is an “innocent owner,” meaning she had no knowledge of the painting’s value.
She wrote: “I am not an art dealer or broker, art historian or collector and have no special education, training or experience in the field of fine art.”
But it turns out Fuqua’s mother graduated from Goucher College with a degree in fine art.
And in 1957, her mother received a master’s degree from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She then returned to Virginia and opened an art school which her daughter eventually helped run.
“A number of people have submitted, or individuals or organizations have submitted pleadings regarding it and the court will make a decision,” said Bolger.
Maybe not how it vanished, or if it was found in a flea market.
According to the Washington Post, a man who called himself Marcia Fuqua’s brother said the painting was in his mother’s studio and his sister took it.
He then changed that account, saying he doesn’t know the facts.