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Stolen Rembrandt Piece Recovered From Encino Church

ENCINO (CBS) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confirms that a Rembrandt quill etching stolen Saturday from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey has been recovered in Encino.

Detectives found the pen-and-ink drawing worth roughly $250,000 in an unlocked building on the property of  St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, 17114 block of Ventura Boulevard. The piece was discovered after an anonymous tipster called police letting them know they had seen the stolen piece of art there.

CBS2 talked with Father Michael Cooper at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, a former deputy, who wouldn't confirm or deny that investigators had visited the location.


KNX 1070's Jon Baird Reports

Officials say there are no arrests in the case, but they are putting the final touches on a suspect sketch.

Police believe the thief left the quill etching at the church after realizing it would be difficult to sell it due to all of the media coverage about its disappearance. They also credited the media with an assist after the tipster said they recognized the drawing from media reports.

"The Judgment," which is dated circa 1655, was taken while on display for potential buyers at an event organized by the Linearis Institute of San Francisco.

An employee from the institute verified the artwork after it was found early Tuesday morning.

Sheriff's detectives say the theft was carefully orchestrated. The drawing was taken during a fifteen-minute period when the curator turned away.

"The frame itself was huge. For someone to walk out with it would be unbelievable," hotel guest Kathleen Anderson told CBS2.

Experts say Rembrandt's art is often targeted by thieves, as there have been 81 documented thefts of the Dutch master's work in the past 100 years.

In most cases, the stolen art was recovered after thieves were caught or voluntarily returned the items.

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