Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Stolen Rembrandt drawing recovered

Los Angeles Sheriff detective Estevan Martinez with the recovered Rembrandt (AP)

A stolen sketch by Dutch master Rembrandt was found at a California church, about 20 miles from the luxury hotel lobby it was snatched from over the weekend, authorities have said.

The 17th century drawing was taken from a private art display at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in upmarket Marina del Rey while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece.

Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said: "When the curator turned back to the Rembrandt, it was gone."

He said at least two people worked together to take the artwork, but it is not clear whether the person talking to the curator was connected to the theft.

Detectives got a tip-off from an anonymous caller on Sunday evening, saying the sketch was in the church in Encino, San Fernando Valley, Whitmore said. A curator confirmed the artwork's authenticity at 12.05am today. Authorities, who did not name the church, said nobody had yet been arrested.

The Rembrandt drawing, taken on Saturday night, was valued at 250,000 US dollars (£152,500) and was being exhibited as part of a private display in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the upmarket seaside community of Marina del Rey.

The sketch was being displayed on an easel or wooden stand and was apparently not fastened down, Whitmore said.

He described the theft as well-executed "but not executed well enough to get away with", adding that investigators had several strong leads and detectives were looking at video surveillance from the hotel.

The sketch, called The Judgment, was completed in around 1655 and is signed on the back by Rembrandt von Rijn. It was drawn with a quill pen and depicts what appears to be a court scene with a man prostrating himself before a judge.

Ritz-Carlton spokeswoman Vivian Deuschl said she could not comment because the theft was a police matter. The drawing was part of an exhibit at the hotel sponsored by the Linearis Institute based in the San Francisco Bay area community of Hercules.

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