"Dollar Sign," a 1981 silkscreen painting, was snatched from Manhattan's Martin Lawrence Galleries in 1998.
However, it reappeared when Jason Beltrez of Brooklyn approached Christie's last September and asked them to sell the painting, the New York Post said Wednesday.
Beltrez insisted he picked the work up for $200 at an outdoor market in New Jersey.
The Post said another painting from the same collection went for $4.6 million last year.
Police in New York are still investigating the heist, while Christie's has announced it won't sell the painting and the gallery is suing Beltrez to get it back.
Regardless of how the piece was obtained, Beltrez has no legal right to it since ownership of a stolen work cannot be transferred, the newspaper said.