#10: Stolen Renoir
Madeleine Leaning On Her Elbow With Flowers In Her Hair by: Renoir
Picture courtesy of wikiart.org
September 8, 2011 a quiet Houston home was invaded by a desperate criminal wielding a semi-automatic weapon. After slipping through an unlocked gate, the perpetrator broke into the home around 10pm. Fearing for the safety of the child asleep upstairs, the homeowner quickly pointed out the Renoir.
“That’s the most expensive thing I own,” she said in a panic. Taking her on her word, the masked gunman tore the framed painting from the wall before making his getaway. The Houston PD was immediately called out, and the case eventually landed on Sergeant Bedingfield’s desk. Even after twenty years of criminal investigations, Bedingfield found himself a little out of his league. A priceless Renoir painting wouldn’t show up at a local pawn shop. He calls in the FBI and Robert Wittman takes the case.
Wittman specialized in art crimes and helped establish the FBI Art Crime Team. Together they have spent nearly six years following every lead.
These cases aren’t like the movies portray. The thief wasn’t a hired thug under the employment of some secret art connoisseur. The Renoir isn’t being shipped through a network of underground criminals, and it most definitely not hanging in the office of some super rich criminal mastermind. More likely, the priceless artwork is hidden in the thief’s garage.
After London created the Art Loss Register, thieves have found it difficult to sell their stolen goods. The more it’s worth, the harder it is to unload. Madeleine Leaning On Her Elbow With Flowers In Her Hair by Renoir was added to London’s list and also comes in at #10 on the FBI’s Top Ten Most Wanted Art Crimes.
If you have any information on this crime please contact Wittman:
Robert Wittman, Inc.
PO Box 653
Chester Heights, PA 19017