Four months after a trio of burglars made off with a Marc Chagall print from a Madison Avenue gallery, the artwork has now been recovered and returned. On September 25 around 2am, three individuals broke through the glass doors of Carlton Fine Arts, walking away with a framed lithograph print of Chagall’s “Eve” (1971).
Two of the three suspects, 59-year-old Carlton Smith and 61-year-old Larry Nestman, were arrested on December 17 and released shortly thereafter due to the non-violent nature of the crime. Both men were charged with burglary and criminal possession of stolen property, with Nestman additionally charged with criminal mischief, a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department told Hyperallergic.
Police are still on the lookout for the third suspect, who has not yet been apprehended. In security video footage, the individuals can be seen walking in front of the gallery and near the getaway car, covering themselves with a striped red, white, and blue umbrella.
Speaking to Hyperallergic over the phone, gallery owner Charles Saffati said the thieves attempted to sell the print in November. It’s still not clear why they took “Eve” out of the many other valuable pieces in the gallery, but Saffati was told that they tried to offload the work for far less than what the dealer estimates is its $100,000 value, pointing to the theft as a smash-and-grab and not a planned burglary. (Auction records show other editions of the same work having sold for far less.) In photos taken by Saffati after the break-in, glass can be seen at the entrance to the gallery, with the easel on which the print was displayed sitting askew on a window platform.
“This is amazing,” Saffati told NBC News, describing the feeling of recovering the print. “This is like winning the lottery.”