LONDON, 04 FEBRUARY 2016: A painting of a Parisian street scene stolen in New York has been recovered by Art Recovery Group. The painting had been consigned to a Miami art gallery in November last year by a private individual.
‘La Porte St. Denis’ by Antoine Blanchard (1910-1988) was one of over 3,000 works of art stolen from the Herbert Arnot Gallery in between 1954 and 1968.
Over a 12-year period, a worker used his access to the gallery, both during and subsequent to his employment, to steal substantial amounts of art from the gallery on a regular basis. A year after leaving Herbert Arnot, Louis Edelman was arrested in Chicago with 800 stolen paintings in his possession and was charged with transporting stolen property across state lines. Edelman was sentenced to two years in jail but many of the paintings remained unaccounted for.
However, in November 2015, ‘La Porte St. Denis’ was identified when offered for sale on the website of a Miami-based art gallery. Art Recovery Group were contacted and immediately appointed to represent the rightful owners in their recovery efforts.
It quickly transpired that ‘La Porte St. Denis’ had been consigned to the Miami gallery but remained in the possession of a third party: a building contractor living in Florida who had accepted the painting in lieu of payment for maintenance work. Contact was made with the possessor and, with the assistance of Art Recovery Group’s Spanish-language consultant Guilherme Maximino, a resolution was reached soon after.
The legal process of determining ownership in this case presented very few obstacles. Unlike the legal systems in most European countries, 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. Generally, 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.
Commenting on the case, Christopher A. Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery Group, said:
“This is the third Blanchard work I’ve recovered for the Arnot Gallery and the second in just two years. With every recovery it feels like we’re a step closer to making right this decades-old crime. The internet can play a very important role in tracking down stolen art and we encourage victims to register their losses for free on the ArtClaim Database for the best chance to identify and recover claimed works.”
Vicki Arnot, Owner of Arnot Gallery, added:
“Chris is someone who fully understands the world of stolen paintings, something that is more unusual than the norm. Arnot Gallery thanks him for his professionalism and successful efforts in negotiating on our behalf and recovering ‘La Porte St. Denis’ for our gallery.”
Art Recovery Group will continue to work with the loss victims to identify and recover all outstanding stolen art works.