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Stolen Matisse returns to its museum 25 years later

STOCKHOLM (AFP) – A Matisse painting stolen 25 years ago has been returned to the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm, its owner said Wednesday, after a dealer had tried to sell it in London.

“The painting Le Jardin has been brought home from London. Right now the painting is in its transportation case,” the museum said in a statement, adding that the artwork would need 24 hours to acclimatize to its new surroundings before being unpacked.

Henri Matisse’s oil on canvas from 1920, which is now worth about $1million (760,000 euros), was found when an art dealer based outside London ran it through a global database of stolen art – standard practice before a sale.

The team at the Art Loss Register quickly identified the painting as the one stolen from the Swedish museum on May 11, 1987, when a burglar broke in with a sledgehammer and made off with the artwork in the early morning hours.

The dealer, Charles Roberts, said he had been asked to sell the painting by an elderly man in Poland who had owned it since the 1990s and now wanted to raise money for his grandchildren.