FBI Uncovers Stolen Motherwell Painting 40 Years Later

An artist’s list of expenses are often overlooked when it comes to evaluating a piece of work. The framing and shipping costs can be extremely high depending on the media. Art tools are often less expensive than framing or shipping costs required to show these artworks. A reliable and flexible shipping company can be an artists’ best friend. Robert Motherwell is an artist who knows this struggle all too well. While Robert Motherwell was moving in 1978, he decided to switch moving companies and somewhere along the line, many of his valuable pieces of art were stolen.

One of Motherwell’s artworks resurfaced early July 2018 and the art world is thrilled. The district attorney of New York City told the public that the piece had been recovered and would be returned to Motherwell’s estate. Since the loss of his works in 1978, Motherwell has become one of the most popular and sought after artists of all time. He set an all time high in his career when he sold a painting called At Five In The Afternoon for almost thirteen million dollars.

The FBI’s art crime team became involved with this case when a young man brought the red and black painting into an appraiser with hopes to get the paperwork necessary to authenticate the piece. The FBI art crime team was able to match the piece with one documented from the looted artworks in 1978. The man turned over Motherwell’s painting as soon as he learned about the issue and was not in any trouble but an investigation has since been launched to further investigate where the other pieces of art may have landed.

It was later realized that the man who delivered the piece to the FBI knew a man who worked for the company that moved Motherwell’s artworks. That man was his deceased father. The investigation is ongoing.