The National Police Agency confirmed Tuesday that a Pierre-Auguste Renoir oil painting, stolen from a private residence in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward 13 years ago, was auctioned by Sotheby's in London earlier this year.
According to Fuji TV, the unidentified Japanese owner contacted police after discovering that Sotheby’s had sold his stolen piece, titled "Madame Valtat," for around 1.05 million pounds (150 million yen) in February. Police say the oil painting, completed and signed by Renoir in 1903, was stolen along with five other works from the Tokyo man’s home, in August 2000. A work by Marc Chagall and four other works of art were also among the haul, the NPA reported.
Sotheby's, which keeps all client information confidential, told the NPA that the work had not appeared on an international database of lost or stolen artwork, Fuji TV reported. As a result, the auction was allowed to proceed.
Police say they are currently investigating why the painting was not listed in the stolen items database and how it was transported out of Japan.
Sotheby's has so far not disclosed who put the painting up for auction or who bought it in February.© Japan Today