In 1978, Robert Motherwell was switching storage companies and employed a moving company to transport his paintings from one unit to another. Somewhere along the way, dozens of his works went missing.
Today, at least one of them has returned home. The Manhattan District Attorney hosted a repatriation ceremony in downtown New York City today to announce the recovery of an untitled abstract painting by the artist that was among those stolen 40 years ago. The painting, which Motherwell created in 1967, will now be returned to the headquarters of the Dedalus Foundation, which was established the same year he died to promote the artist’s work and legacy.
The work is likely worth millions given recent sales of comparable works by Motherwell. The artist’s auction record, $12.7 million, was set at Phillips just this past May for At Five In the Afternoon (1971). To date, more than 30 works by Motherwell have sold for more than $1 million at auction, according to the artnet Price Database.
The red and black abstract painting was recovered after the son of an employee of the moving company, whose father is now deceased, brought it to the Dedalus Foundation earlier this year in hopes of having it authenticated. Jack Flam, the president and CEO of the Dedalus Foundation, quickly matched the work with images and other records documenting the stolen trove. Read more