Robert Motherwell Painting

Mike Smeltz/WCBS 880

Robert Motherwell Painting Returned After Going Missing For 40 Years

July 12, 2018 - 3:17 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- A million-dollar painting that went missing since the 1970s has now been returned to the artist’s foundation.

As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported Thursday, the painting is one of dozens that went missing around the same time.

In the late 70s, New York City-based artist Robert Motherwell changed the location of where he stored his paintings. He used the Santini Moving Company, and somewhere in that move, dozens of his paintings went missing.

“A painting this big isn’t something you put under your coat. It’s a calculated removal,” said Jack Flam, president of the Dedalus Foundation that Motherwell founded.

Flam offered up a theory as to what might have happened.

“A theory would be that somebody at the warehouse realized that the bookkeeping at the warehouse was not as buttoned up as it could be, and took advantage of that,” he said.

The large, red and brown earthy Motherwell painting was returned after having been missing for decades.

It found its way back after the son of a Santini Moving Company employee found it in his late-father’s garage upstate.

The son then went to Motherwell’s foundation to check for its authenticity, and handed it over to authorities once he learned it was stolen.

The hope now is that the return of the one piece could potentially lead to the discovery of the dozens of other missing Motherwell works.

Motherwell passed away in 1991.