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In the night between 13th and 14th of August, 2011, the pen-and-ink drawing known as “The Judgment” by the 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt van Rijn, vanished from the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey near Los Angeles reported Reuters agency.
The drawing, which is valued at $250,000 and was part of a weekly exhibit hosted at the exclusive hotel by the Linearis Institute, said Steve Whitmore of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office. Reuters informed that the investigators examined the hotel on the Sunday looking for clues to the mysterious disappearance of the drawing from the private exhibit.
According to British newspaper The Guardian, the drawing disappeared between 9:20 p.m. and 9:35. Whitmore told that the robbery took place while the curator was distracted by another guest who seemed interested in buying another art piece. “When he turned back, the pen-and-ink drawing was gone,” Whitmore said. “We believe there was more than one person involved,” he added.
The sketch called “The Judgment” is dated 1655, measures about 11 by 6 inches and introduces a court scene with a man prostrating himself before a judge. Sheriff’s officials were reviewing hotel surveillance tapes on the day after the crime. “We believe this to be well planned and well executed,” Whitmore said.
To the curators great relief, two days later the authorities informed that the valuable drawing was found in an Encino church, reported Reuters. Michael Cooper, the priest in charge at Saint Nicholas’ Episcopal Church on Ventura Boulevard, said he found the sketch in the vicinity of the church office but he refused to release any more details.
“I have no idea why it was left here,” said Cooper. He also has no idea what time the piece was dropped off and said that no one was seen leaving it. It is not clear whether the thieves were amateur or professionals. The reason why thieves returned drawing is also unclear.
However Denverpost.com could report that detective Clarence Williams said: “Thieves could realize that … it’s going to be very hard to sell” because of the publicity of the stunt and because they might not have had the knowhow and connections to sell the sketch. The art was not damaged said Williams but the thieves apparently tore open the brown paper covering the back of the frame, intending to remove the mounted sketch.
Rembrandt van Rijn’s name is known worldwide and his work is a common target for thieves — luckily this story ended happily. According to The Guardian, the drawing was quickly verified as being the stolen piece, however experts were still required to check its authenticity. Until this is done, the drawing will remain in an evidence locker, Whitmore said.