The Girl with Two Chairs

In 1975, two stolen masterpieces were purchased for $25 by an unwitting Italian autoworker at an auction of items from the Italian national railway’s lost and found department. The paintings were ‘The Girl With Two Chairs’ by Pierre Bonnard and ‘Still Life of Fruit on a Table with a Small Dog’ (see next page) by Paul Gauguin. They had been stolen from a British couple in 1970. Together, they were valued at $50 million. The autoworker had no idea how valuable the paintings were. He simply hung them in his kitchen for almost 40 years. When his son tried to sell the masterpieces in 2013, art experts who were examining them realized they were stolen works. The police were alerted, but the man and his son were not under suspicion. The British couple who originally owned the paintings had already died without heirs. So the legal system now has to determine who owns the paintings?

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