The case of Norman Rockwell's Russian Schoolroom painting finally has a bit of closure.
After more than five years of legal wrangling, art dealer Judy Goffman Cutler has won the right of ownership of a 1967 Norman Rockwell painting stolen from a St. Louis gallery way back in 1973. The 9th Court of U.S. Appeals ruled on Tuesday that the painting, Russian Schoolroom
, is legally Goffman Cutler's property, finally putting this saga to bed.
And what a saga it was. Russian Schoolroom
disappeared for fifteen years after its theft from the Art International gallery in Clayton before resurfacing at an art auction in New Orleans. The St. Louis man long suspected of stealing the painting -- but never proven to be the thief -- was linked by the FBI to a conspiracy to assassinate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. That conspiracy was hatched just outside St. Louis, at an Imperial motel. Oh, and Steven Spielberg owned the painting for two decades before the FBI became again involved in the case.
has been tracking this story since 1989, when Wm. Stage first interviewed some of the main players. For the definitive history of the case, including an enticing interview with the suspected art thief, read the 2007 feature by Chad Garrison, "The Rockwell Files
If you're interested in the legal back-and-forth that's been rumbling through the courts since the case was re-opened, read this blog post
which links all the bits and pieces together.