7 Feb 2017

Artnet and Le Journal des Arts profile eight ALR recoveries in January

The Art Loss Register announces strong start to the year with successful recovery of eight artworks in January, covered by Artnet and Le Journal des Arts, including three cases of works that had been looted during the Second World War

Still Life of Roses (1706) by Willem Frederik van Royen

One of the cases of Nazi looted art concerned Still Life of Roses (above) by Willem Frederik van Royen, which was painted at a time when the artist was working in Berlin as the court painter to Frederick I. During the Second World War, the Nazis looted the painting from the Märkisches Museum in Berlin. The ALR located the painting when it surfaced at a UK auction house, immediately informed the museum of the discovery and put the parties in direct contact. A settlement was reached and the painting was returned to public display in Berlin in January.

Marble statue of St John the Baptist

In autumn 2015, the ALR received a search request for a sixteenth century Neapolitan school statue of St John the Baptist carved of white Carrara marble. The searcher, who was from Belgium, informed the ALR that he had only recently acquired the statue from an Italian dealer. The statue appeared to be a match with one that was stolen from the Church of San Giovanni in Naples back in 1977.

However, there remained one point of uncertainty: the height of the statue searched with the ALR was 100cm, which was fifty percent larger than the reported height of the stolen statue. The ALR contacted the Carabinieri, who went to the Church of San Giovanni and measured the alcove from which the statue had been stolen. It turned out that the alcove measured 100cm and the statue’s pair – still in the church to this day – was also the same height.

Once the match was confirmed, the Carabinieri took action against the Italian seller. The searcher surrendered the statue and it was collected by the Carabinieri and the Ambassador of Italy to be returned to its rightful place in the church.

Carabinieri theft publication of the stolen statue of St. John the Baptist (left), measuring of the alcove in the Church of San Giovanni (centre),image of the statue searched with the ALR by the Belgian dealer 

Contemporary Chinese ink painting

In spring 2010, a contemporary Chinese ink painting was lost in transit in the USA. Six years later, the ALR spotted the work coming up for sale in a Hong Kong auction. The vendor of the painting was the owner of a shared artists’ space and one day, the painting had just turned up there. None of the artists could account for it and when the studio shut down, the owner decided to sell it. The ALR managed to secure the painting’s proceeds of sale for the benefit of the rightful owner.

The remaining five resolved cases concerned paintings, a drawing and a decorative ivory carving.