Renoir stolen in 1951 allegedly found in flea market, will return to Baltimore Museum of Art

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“Paysage Bords de Seine” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is an 1879 Impressionist style painting that was originally donated to the Baltimore Museum of Art by Saidie Adler May upon her death was missing for over 60 years until surfacing in 2012 at an auction. Photo courtesy of the Potomack Company

A federal judge ruled today that a napkin-sized painting by famed French artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir should be returned to the Baltimore Museum of Art. The work of art by the Impressionist painter was stolen from the museum in 1951. The judge found that there was overwhelming evidence, including a police report and the original donor’s will, proving the museum is the rightful owner of the painting. The 1879 landscape, titled “Paysage Bords de Seine” or “On the Shore of the Seine”, surfaced in September 2012 when Marcia Fuqua put it up for auction. Fuqua claimed that she bought the painting in 2009 at a flea market in Harper’s Ferry, W.Va., for $7. It is currently valued between $22,000 and $100,000. The auction was called off and the FBI seized the painting when a reporter for The Washington Post uncovered documents showing that the landscape had been stolen from the Baltimore museum.

Fuqua did not attend the hearing and has 30 days to decide whether to appeal the ruling. However, the Baltimore Museum of Art is already making plans to welcome home the painting as part of its centennial celebrations this year. Under the law, a purchaser cannot give away or sell a painting found to have been stolen from a museum.