Judge rules stolen Renoir must go back to Baltimore museum

Jan. 11, 2014 at 5:22 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Jan. 11 (UPI) -- A woman who said she bought a painting by Pierre Renoir that disappeared from a Baltimore museum 60 years ago at a flea market has lost ownership of the work.

A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., ruled Friday that the Baltimore Museum of Art owns "On the Shore of the Seine," a small landscape donated to the museum by Saidie May, whose husband purchased it at a Paris gallery, the Washington Post reported. The painting has been in the custody of the FBI in Virginia since Martha Fuqua, a Loudon County, Va., driving instructor, tried to sell it at auction in 2009.

Fuqua, who was not at Friday's hearing, said she bought the painting in a box of miscellaneous items that also included a Paul Bunyan doll, paying a grand total of $7. But some witnesses said they remembered seeing it at her mother's house, the Post said.

Fuqua's brother, Matt, who was at the hearing, said he believed his mother, who was an art student in Baltimore in 1951 when the painting disappeared from the museum, got it as a present. He also said his mother, before her death, urged her children to return it.

"My mother wanted this," he said.

Fuqua's only comment in a telephone interview was "Darn," the Post said, followed by saying "Of course," when asked if she was disappointed.

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