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$100,000 Rodin statue, stolen 24 years ago, returned to rightful owner

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Posted at 5:46 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-09 18:29:12-04
(CNN) — How might you feel if a valuable objet d’art was stolen from your home, disappeared for the best part of a generation, and was then returned?

Well, that’s what’s happened to one woman in California. And she is, in the words of an art group spokesman who knows her, “delighted.”

A statue called “Young Girl with Serpent” by Auguste Rodin, stolen 24 years ago from her home in Beverly Hills, has been returned to her at last.

Rodin, a French sculptor considered by some aficionados to have been the father of modern sculpture, lived from 1840 until 1917. His most famous work, “The Thinker,” shows a seated man with his chin on his hand.\

The lesser-known “Young Girl with Serpent” was stolen in 1991 as part of a $1 million robbery at the Beverly Hills home, while the owners were away.

Statue surfaced at Christie’s Auction House

A housekeeper was implicated in the theft and arrested while sunbathing in Miami, according to a statement from Art Recovery Group, which was involved in returning the statue to the owner.

Then, in 2011, someone offered the statue on consignment to Christie’s auction house‎, which valued the piece at $100,000.

Over the past three years, talks have taken place between the person who placed the statue with Christie’s and Art Recovery Group, which was hired by the insurance company. And the statue has now been returned.

Jerome Hasler, a spokesman for Art Recovery Group, would not identify the rightful owners. They were, he said, “an affluent but not showy family from Beverly Hills, and they were just great collectors.”

In the intervening 24 years, the husband died. But the wife, now in her late 80s, was “delighted” by the statue’s return, he said.

She will only have the statue briefly, however, because part of the deal reached between the owner and her insurance company requires her to consign it for sale later this year, according to artlyst.com.