A piece of Spanish art history disappears on route from Ohio to New York
AN early work by Goya was intercepted on its way from the Toledo Museum in Ohio to an exhibition in New York. Francisco de Goya y Lucientes is one of Spain’s greatest artists, whose later work contributes to the foundations of 19th century realism. The seamless heist took place in Scranton, a Pennsylvanian town on the way to New York in the US.
The 1778 oil painting ‘Children with a Cart’ was commissioned by Carlos III as a template for a royal tapestry. After gracing the walls of Madrid’s Palacio Real it found its way through art dealerships in England and the US until it made its home in the Toledo museum of art in Ohio in the late 1950s.
The insurer’s value of one million dollars (780,000 euros) is reported to be negated on the black market, considering the high profile nature of the theft. Speculation suggests that the masterpiece was stolen to order as, with a reward offered of 50,000 dollars, it would be perilous to attempt to re-sell it.
Others believe that the robbery was little more than an unfortunate coincidence as the van was reported to be unattended at the time the painting was lifted. The image of a ring of two-bit criminals scratching their heads and wondering what to do with a priceless Goya springs to mind.
The curators concerned are hoping that the painting will prove too much of a burden and be returned. In the meantime, when the Guggenheim Museum exhibition “Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History,” opens in New York on Friday, there will be a glaring white space in the collection.