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Stolen Paul Klee painting uncovered by dealer

pkA Montreal art dealer has found a painting valued at about $100,000 by modern artist Paul Klee that was stolen 21 years ago from a gallery in Manhattan.

The painting titled Portrait in the Garden (‘Bildnis in der Laube’) was painted in 1930 by the Swiss painter Klee and was taken in 1989 from the Marlborough Art Gallery.

Owner of the Montreal gallery Landau Fine Art Inc, Robert Landau, was at the Art Basel show held in December at Miami Beach when a man approached him under the guise of being a Florida art dealer and attempted to sell him the stolen painting.

Landau declined the purchase because he was not sure of its authenticity so he had the man send the painting to Canada with the agreement that if it was authentic Landau would purchase it.

Instead, the art gallery owner looked into the background of the painting and found it was stolen. After his discovery he turned it over to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Special agent in charge of the ICE offices, James T. Hayes, stated that the discovery and subsequent recovery of the artwork sends a message to thieves that there are people in the artwork who check for stolen art.

From the ICS the painting was passed on to the Art Loss Register which is the broker and owner of the insurance company that originally paid the claim at the time the painting was taken. It will go up for auction in New York City at Christie’s.

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