As the saying goes, “Don’t steal. The government hates competition.” A Virginia woman who purchased a famous painting at a flea market for $7 a year ago is finding out first hand that the old saying is somewhat true.
Marcia Fuqua, formerly known as “Renoir Girl” after purchasing a painting by the artist and shrouding herself in anonymity, has discarded her veil of secrecy in hopes that it will aid her in an attempt to reclaim a piece that was since confiscated by the FBI.
The painting, called “On the Shore of the Seine”, was seized by the FBI late last year because it had been stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1951.
In order to retain the painting, Fuqua was forced to unmask herself in court papers, while a federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, decides who should get it.
Fuqua’s argument is that the government should recognize her as the painting’s “innocent owner” as defined by federal law.
“I have a layperson’s understanding of art,” she wrote to investigators in December.
Once thought to garner six figures for the piece at auction, a certified arts appraiser told the FBI that the painting is worth about $22,000.
But before “Renoir Girl” can sell the painting, she has to pry it away from the FBI.