In the spring of 1988, an art dealer in Calgary shipped Château Liévin, a roughly 14-by-17-centimetre oil by James Wilson Morrice, to a dealer in Toronto by airplane. However, the work never arrived, and investigators believe it was lifted at Pearson International Airport.
Last summer, a woman showed up at high-end galleries and auction houses on Hazelton Avenue with the piece, asking for an appraisal. Three of them contacted Lucie Dorais, an Ottawa-based expert on the artist who has compiled a catalogue of his work.
“I recognized it right away from the description,” she said. “For the knowledge of the artist, it’s an important find.”
She used an inscription on the back, scrawled in pencil in the artist’s hand, to confirm that the painting the auction houses had seen was the one that vanished more than two decades earlier.