‘Most Wanted’ Stolen Art Discovered By Logistics Company

Missing Karel Appel Masterpieces Recovered In The UK

More than 400 stolen works by pioneer Dutch artist Karel Appel have just been discovered in a UK warehouse. Their recovery of this mother lode occurs a decade after the works were declared missing in 2002 to the dismay of the artist, when the drawings and sketches disappeared in transit. These represented a lifetime’s worth of drawings, sketches, notebooks and other works now believed to be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds.

And now the lost artworks have been discovered by a British logistics company in their newly bought warehouse. While clearing out the old contents, staff had stumbled across eight boxes crammed with artworks. Once they had researched the name Karel Appel, whose notes and signatures appear on most of the works, the company began to realise the significance of their find.

The works were then sent to Bonhams auction house for authentication and evaluation. To the astonishment of the logistics company, it turned out that the works were among the ‘most wanted’ of all stolen artworks – a priority ranking on the Art Loss Register’s (ALR) computerised database.

The ALR then worked to negotiate a settlement with the logistics company over a period of 5 weeks to encourage them to release their claim to the artwork. The artist’s widow, Harriet Appel, has also added her seal of authenticity on the works, expressing that she was ‘extremely happy that the Karel Appel Foundation have recovered the lost drawings and am impressed by the successful and professional way in which this case was handled by the ALR’. There rediscovery will enable the foundation to create ‘a more correct and complete’ catalogue of the artist’s works.

Appel, who died in 2006, was a painter, printmaker, sculptor and ceramist. He was awarded the Unesco prize at the 1954Venice Biennale, having been one of the founders of the avant-garde movement ‘Cobra’ in 1948. His work is represented in collections across the world, including in the Tate.

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