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Rouault Stolen in L.A. Found : $300,000 Artwork Recovered in N.Y.

October 28, 1987|From United Press International

A European modernist oil painting valued at $300,000 and stolen six years ago from the landmark Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles has been recovered in New York City, where it was to be put on auction, police said today.

The painting, "Christ" by Georges Rouault, an oil depiction of the head of Christ, was taken into the Beverly Hills office of Christie's auction house in September before being sent to New York for auction, detective Bill Martin said.

Suspicious officials contacted Thomas Moscardini, an art theft detective with the New York Police Department, who along with Martin, tracked the painting back to 1981, when it was stolen from the Dalzell Hatfield Galleries at the Ambassador.

"When the painting was stolen it was valued at $50,000, but Christie's has since said it is worth about $300,000," Martin said.

The original owner of the painting, Ruth Hatfield, who for 47 years sold art to collectors and Hollywood celebrities from the Ambassador Hotel gallery, died in 1984, but her heirs hope to reclaim the artwork.

"We're overjoyed. My aunt was so upset about the theft in 1981 that we had to put her in the hospital," said Hatfield's niece, Barbara Jackson. "A settlement was reached with the insurance company, but we hope to buy it back."

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