Paintings, stolen in 1976, going to NYC auction

AP News
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Posted: Apr 26, 2012 3:02 AM
Paintings, stolen in 1976, going to NYC auction

Two paintings that resurfaced 31 years after being stolen during a violent home invasion in Massachusetts will be auctioned in New York City next month.

"In the Sun" by American impressionist painter Childe Hassam will be sold at Sotheby's on May 17 as part of its American Art sale for an estimated $1.5 million to $2.5 million, the auction house said Thursday.

The richly colored canvas, created in 1888, depicts a woman in a flower garden near Paris shielding her face from the sun with a fan.

The other work, "The Shore of Lake Geneva" by French artist Gustave Courbet, will be sold at Sotheby's 19th Century European Art sale on May 4. The painting, which has a pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, shows an empty lake beach against a stand of trees.

They were among three paintings pilfered on July 2, 1976, from a Shrewsbury, Mass., home. Three armed bandits tied up the owner, Mae Persky, and her nurse companion and caretaker before ransacking the house and also stealing the painting, "Lady as Shepherdess" by English artist William Hamilton.

The two paintings are being offered for sale by the heirs of the estate, Sotheby's said. Their plans for the Hamilton work were not disclosed The paintings resurfaced in 2007 when a Newport, R.I., art dealer contacted the FBI after a lawyer and developer, Patrick Conley, brought them for an appraisal.

Conley said he got the paintings from his brother, an antiques dealer, but didn't know they were stolen.

In 2008, a consent agreement in Rhode Island federal court awarded the works to Judith Yoffie, the sole surviving relative of Persky's estate. Persky died in 1979; Yoffie died in March 2008.

No one has ever been arrested in the case. The robbers, who also reportedly stole furs, rugs and silverware from the house, fled the scene in the caretaker's car, later found abandoned near the Rhode Island border.

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www.sothebys.com