A quarter century after an impressionist work by Henri Matisse was taken from a Swedish museum by a thief wielding a sledgehammer, the 1920 painting has been recovered.
The work, “Le Jardin,” an oil on canvas now worth approximately $1 million, was about to be sold when dealer Charles Roberts ran it through a global database of stolen art – standard practice before a sale, according to Agence France-Presse.
Roberts, who runs Charles Fine Art in southern England, said he was stunned to discover the Matisse had been filched in May 1987.
“It’s not something that happens every day,” Roberts said. “I’m glad I found out now rather than later.”
Roberts said the current Polish owner, whom he did not name, had bought the artwork in good faith 20 years ago, according to the Associated Press.
Christopher Marinello, a lawyer working with the London-based Art Loss Register, which tracks stolen, missing and looted art, said the painting, valued at about $1 million, would be returned to Stockholm’s Moderna Museet.