Italian police recover stolen Renoir, arrest three suspects

ROME (AP) – A Renoir painting stolen in 1975 was recovered and three people were arrested on a tip from an art critic who had been asked to value it, Italy’s police art squad said Friday.

The work by French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir is worth some $735,000, art squad head Gen. Giovanni Nistri said. It was stolen from a restorer’s lab in Milan, where the Milanese owners had sent it for repairs.

“It’s not one of those paintings of great value,” he told reporters at a presentation in Rome. “The value of the artwork is cultural rather than commercial.”

The painting of a seated nude woman was found this summer after the people who had it contacted the critic to have it appraised before selling it, the Carabinieri paramilitary police said.

The critic alerted the Carabinieri’s art squad, and officers were waiting when the painting was removed from a bank vault in northern Italy for the appraisal.

Three people were arrested on suspicion of receiving stolen goods. They are a 68-year-old woman who manages an art gallery, and two men previously known to police for other crimes, Nistri said.

The painting will be returned to its owners. Its date was not given. Renoir died in 1919.

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