Thirty two years after a tapestry possibly worth $1.3 million was stolen from Spain, the "Virgin and Saint Vincent" is believed to have been found in Houston, Texas.
The coveted decor is currently being investigated by U.S. customs special agents, who told My San Antonio news that he was "pretty much convinced" of the work's validity from the day he saw the work in person.
The 16th century work, which depicts the Virgin Mary along with a number of Catholic saints, has been missing since it was stolen from Spain's Roda de Isábena cathedral in 1979. Notorious bandit René Alphonse Van Den Berghe, who often goes by the praiseworthy moniker "Erik the Belgian," claimed responsibility for the grand caper.
The long-lost work came back into the spotlight when a museum employee living in Spain saw a listing for what appeared to be the tapestry in a Brussels art antique catalog. Spain teamed up with authorities from Brussels and the US to track the piece all the way to Houston, where it had been purchased by nonprofit Music Doing Good Inc. in 2010. The buyer seemed unaware of the work's potential stolen past and cooperated with the authorities.
Although the Spanish Cathedral hoped to have its beloved tapestry returned it time for Christmas, it will take months for the tapestry to be conclusively identified as the stolen "Virgin and Saint Vincent." Stay tuned for updates regarding this mysterious cloth canvas.
In the meantime check out some other unexpected art finds that inspire us to keep our eyes peeled at all times.
Owl In The Attic
Jane Cordery, an art teacher in Hampshire, England, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/17/pre-raphaelite-artwork-found-in-attic-sells-christies-william-james-webbe_n_2314880.html">discovered this detailed bird portrait </a>in her attic after attempting to clean the space for a plumber. She e-mailed a photograph of the find to Christie's, where "The White Owl," was identified as the work of pre-Raphaelite artist William James Webbe, and valued at £70,000, or $113,449.
A Lost Da Vinci
A lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/lost-da-vinci-painting-wo_n_1751869.html">may have turned up in a Scottish farmhouse</a> owned by a family of non-collectors, named the McLarens. The discovered portrait, which should be officially dated by next year, bears telltale hairlines, shoulders, toes, and a hidden fleur-de-lys that point to Da Vinci, as well as a likeness to a traced figure in the "Last Supper." If the farmhouse find is indeed a 500-year-old original, it is may be worth over $150 million.
A Dali At Goodwill
A mysterious donor dropped off a signed etching by Surrealist master Salvador Dali at a Goodwill in Tacoma, Washington this year, where an art-savvy employee quickly identified it. It was since added to the organization's online auction system, where it sold for <a href="http://www.shopgoodwill.com/viewItem.asp?itemID=11802927&history=show#des">a bargain price of $21, 005</a>.
The One That Got Away
Here's one of those art find stories that's dramatic for the wrong reasons. Reinhold Hoffmann, a 70-year-old retiree, captured the attention of European media when his partner bought a $25 book of old stamps at a Dresden, Germany, flea market, and one of them of them looked like a one-cent stamp from 1867 potentially worth $3 million, featuring Benjamin Franklin and a rare "Z Grill" pattern. The Philatelic Foundation quickly gave Hoffman the bad news: <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/26/reinhold-hoffmann-german-_n_2023161.html">just one of those lame F Grills</a>, bro.
Meanwhile, In Another German Flea Market...
A luckier German bargain shopper stumbled across the rare book treasure of a lifetime. A consultation with the auction house Ketterer Kunst revealed that a brochure he paid €5 for, a catalog for a 1912 traveling exhibition of German expressionist Die Brücke artists, is valued at €18,000, or $23,400.
A Bargain Bolotowsky
Like most unsuspecting thrifters, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/24/beth-feeback-finds-famous_n_1910678.html">Beth Feeback wasn't aware of her painting's famous origins</a> when she bought it at a North Carolina Goodwill for $9.99. In fact the artist, who specializes in portraits of cats, was just looking to upcycle an unwanted canvas for her own work. But a quick Google search of a name printed on the back of the canvas prevented her from turning the original Ilya Bolotowsky into scrap. ABC News reports that Feeback sold her abstract find for $27,000 at auction.
The Flea Market Renoir
A woman who bought a $7 box lot at a flea market <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/renoir-flea-market-paysage-bords-de-seine_n_1866236.html">unwittingly scored a painting by Pierre-August Renoir</a>. But don't get too jealous: "Renoir Girl," as the finder was known to the media, wasn't able to cash in her original "Paysage Bords De Seine." In a dramatic twist, the painting that launched a thousand flea market visits turned out to be <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/09/27/161911081/renoir-found-at-flea-market-may-be-real-but-its-also-stolen">stolen six decades ago from the Baltimore Museum of Art</a>.
A Hidden JFK
Pam Dwyer's purchase of a horse painting at a yard sale in Arizona <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/23/pam-dwyer-arizona-woman-b_n_2177804.html">turned out to be more than it seemed</a>. On a hunch, Dwyer and her husband removed the work from the frame only to uncover a portrait of President John F. Kennedy from 1961, by the infamous forger and artist Carmelo Soraci. While the painting is proving tough to appraise, experts note that its historical significance makes it a good fit for a place like the Smithsonian.
An Unloved Masterpiece
Sometimes you just don't like a painting, no matter how "great" it is. That's how one Scottish woman felt in the early 1960s, when her husband came home with a painting of roses that she disliked enough to banish to a spare room. Let this be a lesson to those who are easily dismissive of gifts. The BBC reports that the painting in question was recently identified as "Pink Roses," an original oil work by one of Scotland's most influential artists, Samuel Peploe, valued by McTear's Auctioneers in Glasgow at £300,000. The price the obedient husband originally paid? "Not significant enough to remember," according to the unnamed seller, who is the couple's son.
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