Stolen Painting Found in Steven Spielberg's Office

Posted on March 3, 2007

Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg was horrified to learn that he had a stolen painting in his possession. He had no idea the painting was stolen, and has owned it since 1989. The Norman Rockwell painting is entitled "Russian Schoolroom," and was stolen from an art gallery in Missouri during a robbery in 1973.

The FBI's Art Crime Team says the painting turned up for sale in New York in 1989, the same year Spielberg bought it from a legitimate dealer. It was Spielberg's staff that alerted the FBI when they noticed the painting on a list of stolen art.

"They were gracious and responsible to come forward with that information," Assistant Special Agent Tom Noble told ABC News.

Noble said Spielberg's staff allowed FBI experts to authenticate the painting, which shows children at their desks facing a bust of Lenin.

The painting was worth about $20,000 when it was stolen. The FBI estimates it is worth about $700,000 today.

"It is just wonderful that it has been found," said Laurie Norton, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. "It is good to know it was in safe hands, as Mr. Spielberg is a devoted and passionate collector of Norman Rockwell."

According to CNN, one of Spielberg's staffers noticed that the painting on the wall was also listed on an FBI site which lists stolen art. The FBI is allowing Spielberg to keep the painting temporarily. ABC News says Spielberg is a trustee on the board of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

What a bummer for Spielberg. The painting is valued at $700,000; we hope his insurance covers some of his loss. Which leads us to another question: what in the world was a member of Spielberg's staff doing perusing the FBI stolen art database during working hours? Shouldn't he have been working full-time on the new Indiana Jones film?

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