The sketch, by Dutch master Rembrandt van Rijn was taken when a curator was distracted by someone expressing an interest in buying another piece. When they turned back the work - apparently neither secured nor alarmed - was gone.
However the Rembrandt, which has been valued at $250,000, has now been returned. An anonymous phone call was made which tipped off the authorities to its location in a church just a couple of dozen miles away from the original event.
It was confirmed as being the work stolen by a curator just after midnight.
Needless to say, Rembrandt's major works can be extremely valuable, with his Portrait of a Man selling for £20m in London a year and a half back.
The problem for thieves, as always, is that selling on stolen works from an artist as well known as Rembrandt is finding someone willing to part with five, six, seven or eight figure sums without the work being seen by someone who knows it was stolen.
Sometimes works are stolen from institutions and then ransomed. Other times they are stolen to order or traded between those who aren't concerned that they're stolen.
Collectors wishing to own a sketch by a great artist legally (albeit not exactly Rembrandt's contemporary) should take a look at this piece by the legendary Salvador Dali.
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