An untitled Hans Hofmann painting. Courtesy: Art Recovery International.

Italian Art Crime Investigators Recover Stolen Hans Hofmann Works

Art Recovery International in Venice announced this week that it recovered five works by Abstract Expressionist Hans Hofmann that were stolen more than a decade ago. According to the Courthouse News Service, the thief who took the paintings from what was then the Cirkers art storage facility in Manhattan in 2003 was arrested. John Rett, the longtime caretaker of the facility, pleaded guilty to criminal possession of stolen property one year later, in 2004, after the New York City Police determined the heist was an inside job.

“I’ve seen this all before: a classic case all too often repeated of insider theft on a grand scale,” Christopher Marinello, who runs ARI, said in a statement. The firm discovered the works after Hofmann’s The Artist was consigned for sale at Heritage Auctions. When it failed to sell, the piece was scheduled to be sold by Swann Auction Galleries earlier this year. Before the sale, a consignor, whose name was not disclosed, contacted ARI about the work, as well as four others. Collectively, the paintings are estimated to be worth $500,000.

Marinello also noted that ARI is investigating another missing Hofmann painting, titled Arcanum, and he urged the public to come forward with any information regarding the canvas.