The long saga of two giant, colonial-era paintings — stolen from a Bolivian church in 2002 and unwittingly purchased in 2003 by New York collectors, who discovered they were stolen after loaning them for a 2013 exhibit — came full circle yesterday when they were unveiled at the government palace in La Paz.
The works, Virgin of Candelaria and Escape to Egypt, were among 12 paintings cut from their frames in a Catholic church in Potosi, 255 miles south of the capital, according to an ABC report. Richard and Roberta Huber, collectors who specialize in colonial Latin American art, didn't realize the paintings were stolen when they bought them 12 years ago in Brazil. (The other stolen artworks have yet to resurface.)
In 2013, the restored paintings were loaned as part of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's "Journeys to New Worlds: Spanish and Portuguese Colonial Art from the Roberta and Richard Huber Collection;" the museum soon discovered that the paintings were listed in Interpol's database of stolen artworks. The Hubers were on hand at the ceremony returning the paintings to the care of Bolivian President Evo Morales.
AP photo by Juan Karita