The Washington Post apparently did a little investigating of its own, and found that the Flea-Market-find Renoir about to be auctioned tomorrow at Potomack Galleries in Alexandria belonged to a Baltimore Museum and had been stolen in 1951.
[A] Washington Post reporter entered the library at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In a box full of Saidie Mayâ€™s letters and artwork receipts lay one major clue: records showing that she had lent the painting to the museum in 1937. The discovery startled museum officials, who had already said the flea-market Renoir never entered their institution.
But armed with the loan registration number, museum officials dug up in their collection records an even-more-astounding clue about the Renoirâ€™s journey. An old museum loan registration document revealed that the tiny landscape, measuring 51 / 2 by 9 inches, was stolen Nov. 17, 1951, from the BMA â€” shortly after Mayâ€™s death.
Now the paintingâ€™s highly anticipated auction by the Potomack Company has been canceled. The FBI is investigating, and museum officials are trying to learn more about the paintingâ€™s theft. They couldnâ€™t explain why it does not appear on a worldwide registry of stolen and lost art.