A Renoir painting that caused a viral press sensation in September 2012, when it was put up for auction, after allegedly being discovered at a flea market for $7 is in the news again. The lot which turned out to be stolen decades ago, from a museum in Baltimore has been further undermined by having possible family connections to the vendor. The auction house selling the work pulled the lot from their sale and the painting has been locked in FBI custody for the last eight months.
Now, as it turns out the woman named as, Marcia “Martha” Fuqua, a former PE teacher, who claimed she bought the valuable work of art at a flea market, has a mother who is a painter and graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art, who once specialised in reproducing the works of many well known artists, including Renoir. The legal papers state that Fuqua filed in federal court in Alexandria to retain ownership of the painting, arguing she is the painting’s “innocent owner,” with “a layperson’s understanding of art” and that she had no idea that the painting that she found in a box ,with a plastic cow and a Paul Bunyan doll was an original Renoir. The Daily Beast website recently suggested that Ms Fuqua’s brother “initially told The Washington Post that she’d found it in their mother’s studio”, which if true, contradicts her original story.
Many things can be found at flea markets. Some of them great and others not so great. In my years of going to boot fairs (flea markets) I’ve certainly never stumbled across a piece of art history. People often walk away with a few chipped teacups, or perhaps a scratched record. But that a lucky woman in Virginia stumbled across a genuine Renoir that was carelessly placed amongst the moth bitten jumpers and cracked crockery, that really was news! The surprise to find an authentic Renoir must have been overwhelming to say the least. The plot thickens!