When a $1 million stolen Matisse painting is recovered after 26 years missing, we’d say that is cause for celebration. The work in question, Henri Matisse’s 1920 painting, “Le Jardin,” was stolen from Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm during an early morning robbery on May 11, 1987. The bold burglar reportedly smashed into the museum with a sledgehammer and made off with the well-known work.
Over 20 years later, the painting popped up mysteriously when Charles Roberts, an Essex based art dealer, was offered the piece by a Polish collector. Roberts then searched for information on its background through Art Loss Register (ARL), a database which holds information about stolen art.
Once the painting’s criminal past came to light, ALR director Christopher Marinello began negotiations for the French Impressionist masterpiece to be returned to its Swedish roots. The work is now being held in a safe in ARL’s offices until its journey home to Swedish Ministry of Culture.
Even with the work’s fortuitous return, it’s unlikely that the work’s thief will ever be revealed. Marinello told the Independent: “Unfortunately the police don’t seem to be very interested in the criminal aspect because of the time that has passed.” He added to the BBC: “Stolen artwork has no real value in the legitimate marketplace and will eventually resurface… it’s just a matter of waiting it out.”
Neither Charles Roberts nor the unnamed Polish collector are suspected in relation to the crime. While we would love to see the sledgehammer-clad caper unmasked, we are happy to see the long-lost Matisse returned home with no damage done.