Update: Renoire to be Returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art

The Washington Post, among other news outlets is reporting the recently found Renoir "On the Shore of the Seine" will be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art. A Federal judge ruled there was sufficient evidence to determine the painting was stolen from the BMA in 1951 and there was no evidence to proof otherwise.

The Washington Post reports
During Friday’s court hearing, the BMA argued that regardless of whether Fuqua found the Renoir at a flea market, no one can have legal title to stolen artwork.

Brinkema agreed in her ruling, granting summary judgment in favor of the BMA. She said the museum had overwhelming evidence that the painting had been stolen in November 1951 and that Fuqua offered not a “scintilla” of proof to the contrary.

Brinkema’s decision cancels a trial that had been scheduled for next week and wipes out what could have been a useful windfall for Fuqua, who in 2009 filed for bankruptcy, citing debts of more than $400,000.

Fuqua’s attorney, T. Wayne Biggs, argued in court that the BMA’s evidence — the police report and other decades-old museum records — needed proper authentication to be admissable. But Brinkema said that the BMA furnished a mountain of evidence that “clearly reflected” that the item had been pilfered.

Biggs declined to comment after the hearing.

Doreen Bolger, the BMA’s director, said she was “delighted” by the judge’s decision. She likened the painting’s return to a “prodigal son who’s been lost for 60 years” and is finally coming home. “I’m just glad to have it over and to have the decision be so clear-cut.”

Marla Diaz, the BMA’s attorney, said that Fuqua can appeal the judge’s decision but doubted whether she would.

Matt Fuqua, Martha’s brother, who attended the hearing, was elated by the judge’s ruling and stood outside the courthouse before a bank of television cameras, giving interviews.

Before she died, his mother had urged Martha to return to the painting to the BMA, he said. “My mother wanted this.”

He said he suspects that the painting was given to his mother long ago as a gift, but she never revealed where it came from. The FBI declined to comment on its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the painting’s theft and alleged appearance at a flea market.

Bolger said the BMA plans to exhibit “On the Shore of the Seine” as soon as March, as part of an exhibition of works bequeathed by Saidie May. The museum is debating whether to make available for visitors printouts of news stories about the Renoir case so they can view the piece and read its back story at the same time.

Asked if the museum would be taking special care to ensure that the piece would not be stolen again, Bolger said that no one need worry. That painting, Bolger stressed, will not escape the BMA’s hands.

“It’ll be anchored to the wall,” she said.
Source: Washington Post

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