Sleuth Finds Lost Matisse

| by Michael Allen

British art sleuth Christopher Marinello has recovered 'Le Jardin,' a painting by French artist Matisse that was stolen from the Moderna Museet Museum in Stockholm, Sweden 25 years ago.

Le Jardin is valued at about $916,200, reports Reuters.

Kristin Ek, spokeswoman for the Moderna Museet, told Reuters: "It is fantastic that the painting has turned up again. It was stolen so long ago that really we had almost given up hope. We are happy the painting seems to be okay and in good condition. It was a good start to the New Year."

Le Jardin was stolen in May 1987 when a thief broke into the museum with a sledgehammer during the night.

The painting was recovered after an art dealer in Britain checked with the Art Loss Register in London before selling Le Jardin. 

Marinello, who works as an art recovery specialist at the Art Loss Register, would not give details of how he got hold of Le Jardin, except to say: "No arms were broken and no payments were made."

Stolen art is a lucrative industry with $6-7 billion worth of thefts every year. If thieves cannot collect a ransom from owners, the art is sold on the black market for a fraction of its real worth, or exchanged for drugs or guns.