A valuable, stolen bronze by Auguste Rodin has been recovered, after being offered at an auction, at Christie’s. In 1991, thieves stole artwork valued at over $1 million USD in a series of raids on a private residence in Beverly Hills whilst the owners were out of town. Among a number of high-value works of fine art stolen during the robberies was an edition of ‘Young Girl with Serpent’ by esteemed French sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917).
The residence was left unoccupied for several weeks, allowing multiple visits by thieves whose access had been arranged by the victims’ trusted housekeeper. It is understood that the individual in whose care the residence was regularly left had bragged about his employers’ wealth at a local bar and was convinced to sell a duplicate of the house keys for $5,000 when propositioned by criminals.
Upon their return, the victims described their home as looking as though it ‘had been hit by an earthquake’ and, with no sign of their housekeeper, they immediately informed the Beverly Hills Police Department of his assumed involvement in the crime. A police search identified the existence of a previously-unknown arrest warrant for the housekeeper, issued in his native Switzerland. He was subsequently tracked to a Miami hotel and arrested whilst sunbathing by the pool.
The location of all stolen items remained unknown until Rodin’s ‘Young Girl with Serpent’ was identified when consigned for sale at Christie’s in New York. Art Recovery International was appointed by the insurer and led the negotiations with the consignor’s legal representative. With title to the work unconditionally relinquished by the consignor, the sculpture has been offered back to the theft victims in line with the benefits of their insurance policy.
Speaking this morning, Christopher A. Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International, said:
“This case was a perfect example of public and private sector collaboration. We are extremely grateful for the steadfast determination of the Beverly Hills Police Department, and in particular the perseverance of Detective Michael Corren, in keeping this case open for 24 years and seeing through its resolution.
Additional artworks taken in the raids remain unaccounted for and the outstanding losses have been recorded on the ArtClaim Database. When the Rodin was last offered for sale at Christie’s, its value was estimated at around $100,000.
In accordance with the resolution agreed between the loss victim and their insurance company, this work will now be consigned for sale later this year.