A Painting Stolen From a New York Gallery 60 Years Ago Was Recovered in the U.K.

A painting by the French post-Impressionist artist Edouard-Leon Cortés, stolen from a New York gallery in the 1960s, has been recovered after it was spotted for sale in the U.K. earlier this year.

The painting, Flower Market Madeleine, was one of about 3,000 paintings stolen from the Herbert Arnot Gallery in New York City over a 12-year period in the 1950s and 1960s, Art Recovery International announced on November 21. The private company deals in dispute resolution and art recovery services.

Arnot Gallery was founded in Austria in 1863, but moved to New York during World War II. In 1966, Louis Edelman left his apprenticeship at the midtown Manhattan gallery with plans to start his own. Before leaving his former employer, Edelman schemed to invoice sales he made at the Arnot Gallery in his own name and sold most of the paintings in Chicago, Kansas City, and St. Louis, which was revealed when the FBI arrested him in the Windy City.

According to Art Recovery, when a gallery owner was asked during the trial whether he knew the paintings he bought from Edelman were stolen, he replied, “Well, not all of them.”

Edelman was sentenced to two years in prison and fined $10,000 for the thefts. The paintings he stole were valued at more than $1 million, according to Art Recovery. Federal prosecutors at the time said the works were worth more than $250,000. Most of them were never recovered, though some have reappeared at auction houses and galleries across the world.

Louis Edelman, an apprentice at the Arnot Gallery in Midtown Manhattan, is pictured after his arrest for a massive art theft in the 1960s. Photo courtesy of Art Recovery International.

The Cortés painting was found for sale by Carnes Fine Art, a dealer in Mawdesley, England, which purchased it in November 2022 at Capes Dunn auction, according to Art Recovery. Artnet News has reached out to Carnes Fine Art for additional comment.

Christopher A. Marinello, lawyer and founder of Art Recovery, thanked Bradley Carnes and Capes Dunn for releasing this stolen painting “unconditionally” back to the Arnot Gallery. “While in this instance, we were able to convince many of the parties to reimburse the other, eventually there will be those who are out of luck,” he said.

Marinello advised that anyone buying or selling a painting by Edouard-Leon Cortés or Antoine Blanchard check with the Arnot Gallery for proper authentication.

“We have been recovering one or two pictures per year from this 60-year-old theft and we’re never going to give up until every last one is returned,” he said.

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