Two unique sculptures stolen in broad daylight from a prominent New York gallery have been recovered by Art Recovery International 32 years after their theft.

On 2 December 1983 ‘Central Figure of Day’ by Paul Manship was stolen from an exhibition of sculpture held at Hirschl & Adler Gallery in New York City. Just 3 weeks later, ‘Figure of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’ by Prince Paul Troubetzkoy was stolen from the same show.

At the time of the theft the works were reported to the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA). Each was valued at around $24,000 but together are now worth about $250,000.

Missing for over 30 years, the two sculptures were consigned for sale in December 2014 to the Gerald Peters Gallery in New York City. In the course of their professional due diligence before exhibiting the two sculptures at the city’s Winter Antiques Show, the active claims to which the works were subject were revealed.

Art Recovery International was appointed to lead negotiations between all parties, resolve the active dispute and recover the two works. Talks commenced late last year and the works were recovered without condition and returned to Hirschl & Adler on 6 February 2015.

Speaking this morning, Christopher A. Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International, said:

“Cases like these should prove to loss victims that it is never too late to pursue a claim. 30 years is a long time for something to go missing in the art world but, thanks to more and more galleries undertaking their due diligence, we have a better chance than ever of recovering long-lost works of art.”

Ray Lazerson, Treasurer at Hirschl & Adler Gallery, added:

“There can’t be too many dealers who have to tell their gallery Director twice in three weeks that something has been stolen! We are delighted that these works have been found and grateful for the co-operation of all parties in their recovery.”

The legal process of determining ownership in this case presented very few obstacles. Unlike the legal systems in most European counties, it is a basic tenet of US law that no individual can obtain good title to a stolen work of art – not even when purchased in good faith. The law recognises that a stolen work of art is always stolen property and therefore makes no exceptions for good faith, passage of time or the number of owners since the theft occurred.

This is not the first instance of a Paul Manship bronze being stolen from New York City. In 1990, The New York Times reported on the recovery of ‘Aries’ and ‘Taurus’ from the sculptor’s ‘Armillary Sphere’ series created for the 1964 World Fair and stolen, along with six others from the same series, seven years later.

As part of the continuing efforts for their identification and recovery, the remaining Manship losses have been recorded on the ArtClaim Database. Loss registrations on the ArtClaim Database are free of charge to all users.