The Baltimore Museum of Art, or BMA, will soon regain possession of a painting by French impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir that was stolen in 1951 and taken to an auction house in 2012 by a woman who claimed she bought it for $7 at a flea market, a museum spokeswoman said Monday.
"The painting is in good condition," BMA director of communications Annie Mannix Brown said. "The auction house that notified us about the work in 2012 did not express any concerns about its condition."
Federal District Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled on Friday that "On the Shore of the Seine," which was painted in 1879, belongs to the BMA.
"The Federal Bureau of Investigation has the painting and we expect to put it on display in March," the museum spokeswoman said.
A woman who claimed she bought the Renoir at a West Virginia flea market took the painting to the Potomack Company in Arlington, Virginia, for an appraisal.
Marcia Fuqua told the auction house that the painting had the name "Renoir" on the frame, Potomack Company director Elizabeth Wainstein said.
The Potomack Company determined that the painting was authentic and was unable to find the work in a registry of stolen art.
Fuqua planned to sell the work at auction.
A reporter from The Washington Post, however, found that the painting had been loaned to the BMA for a 1937 exhibition by its owner, Herbert L. May, who was married to a museum donor.
The BMA initially said it did not own the painting, but museum officials later found an index card in the archives showing that the Renoir had been stolen in 1951. EFE