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Earlier this year, a judge ordered that a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The work, which had been purchased in 2009 at a Virginia flea market, was stolen from the museum in 1951.

Martha Fuqua, the woman who made the seven-dollar flea market purchase, argued that she deserved to hold on to “On the Shore of the Seine,” a small landscape painting, because she was unaware that it had been stolen when she purchased it. Fuqua attempted to sell the work at auction for $100,000, but it was confiscated by the FBI after it was revealed that the painting belonged to the museum.

“On the Shore of the Seine” will be on view at the Baltimore Museum of Art from March 30 through July 20.  

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A necklace by the American sculptor Alexander Calder, which was purchased at a flea market for $15 in 2005, will be sold at Christie’s this fall. The brass necklace from 1938 is expected to bring between $200,000 and $300,000.

Philadelphia resident Norma Ifill spotted the rare necklace while she was browsing a local flea market. She was drawn to the piece’s tribal aesthetic but it wasn’t until she visited a Calder jewelry exhibition at the Philadelphia Art Museum that she realized she had a true treasure in her possession. Ifill spoke with the exhibition’s curator and later took the necklace to the Calder Foundation in New York, where her find was deemed a genuine Calder. She also learned that the piece was once on display at the Museum of Modern Art.

The necklace will be offered on September 26, 2013 at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art auction.

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The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) filed papers in federal court this week arguing that a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), which was found in a Virginia flea market in 2012, legally belonged to the institution. On the Shore of the Seine (1879) a small landscape painting, had been stolen while it was on view as part of an exhibit at the museum in 1951. A Virginia woman later purchased the work from the flea market for $7, allegedly unaware of the work’s distinguished provenance.

The documents filed on Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, VA, claim that no one except the BMA can legally own the Renoir because it belonged to the institution before it was stolen. The buyer of On the Shore of the Seine, Martha Fuqua, has filed her own court papers stating that she deserves to hold on to the painting because she was unaware that the Renoir had been stolen and was subject to FBI forfeiture when she acquired it. Suspicions have surrounded Fuqua’s claim, as her mother is a painter who specializes in reproducing artworks and three friends of Fuqua have come forward saying that they remembered seeing the painting in her home and studio.

After the museum reported On the Shore of the Seine stolen, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. paid the institution a $2,500 claim. The company has assured the BMA that it will return the painting to the museum if a judge determines that they are the rightful owners.

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013 18:32

Stolen Faberge Egg Found Near Swiss Border

French traffic police found a stolen Faberge egg worth $1.3 million while conducting a routine car search near the Swiss border. The egg, which is made of more than two pounds of pure gold, is covered in diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. The work of art has been missing for four years.

The Faberge egg was stolen in 2009 from a Kuwaiti import-export firm based in Geneva but the work’s whereabouts were never determined. The officers, who recovered the egg from a suspicious looking BMW, immediately placed the two Belarusian men in the car under arrest. Another man who was driving behind the suspects was also arrested. When questioned by the police, the suspects claimed conflicting stories; one alleged that they had found the Faberge egg on the ground and another maintained that they had bought it for a low price at a flea market.

Officials believe that the three suspects were given the task of transporting and negotiating the sale of the artwork. They are currently in police custody and have been charged with handling stolen goods and possessing a weapon.

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