A New York judge has ruled that an art restorer cannot claim ownership of a Depression-era mural that the city of Stamford, Conn., mistakenly threw out in 1970. The 8-by-100-foot mural, painted in 1934 by artist James Daughtery as part of the federal Works Progress Administration, has been appraised at $1.25 million by Sotheby's. After Stamford discarded it, a federal agency retrieved the work and asked restorer Hiram H. Hoelzer to keep it until federal funding could be found to restore it. When Stamford decided to go after its own grant for restoration in 1986, Hoelzer claimed the city had given up its rights to the mural and he claimed ownership. The judge, however, held that Hoelzer did not assert ownership and "continued to possess it as a custodian or bailee," a person who holds something temporarily in trust.