New York prosecutors announce the forfeiture of stolen works by Camille Pissaro
January 13th, 2010 – 5:02 am ICT by BNO News –
NEW YORK CITY (BNO NEWS) – New York prosecutors announced Monday the forfeiture of a stolen work by the artist Camille Pissaro.
In 1981, Le Marché, a painting by Camille Pissaro, was stolen by Emile Guelton who walked out of the Faure Museum in Aix-Les-Bains, France, with the work under his jacket. No arrests were made at the time. Later in 1985, Guelton approached a gallery owner, Jay Adelman, in San Antonio, Texas, to sell the work for him. Sharyl Davis, who was using space in the art gallery at the time, purchased the work for $8,500. Davis later auctioned Le Marché to Sotheby’s New York for an estimated $60,000 to $80,000.
When Sotheby’s asked Davis for the information about the print, she could only remember “Frenchie,” the man who cosigned Le Marché to the San Antonio art gallery. She later asked Adelman, who told her it was Guelton and that he was from Paris. That information later appeared in the auction catalog with an image of Le Marché.
Just before the auction, French federal law enforcement officers learned that Le Marché was at Sotheby’s. Based off of the information in the catalog, the officers located, contacted, and interviewed Guelton. He confirmed that he knew Adelman, was living in Texas in 1985, sent a container of artwork from France to the United States in 1984, and sold Adelman paintings. The officers showed a photo to a Faure Museum guard in October 2003 who identified Guelton as the thief from 1981.
Yesterday, the jury found that Le Marché was subject to forfeiture as property introduced into the United States contrary to a law known as the National Stolen Property Act, which, among other things, prohibits the transportation and sale of stolen property such as the Le Marché.
The Department of Justice sought the forfeiture of Le Marché in response to a treaty request from France that the artwork be seized, forfeited, and restored to France.
The U.S. Attorney in charge of the case praised the investigative efforts of ICE, and thanked French law enforcement for their partnership and cooperation. The case is currently being handled by the Office’s Asset Forfeiture Unit.
Camille Pissaro was a French Impressionist painter; he made significant visual contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. He also had a patriarchal standing among his colleagues, particularly Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin.