Connecticut has been all abuzz in recent weeks with the discovery of an early 20th century painting innocuously hanging on the wall of a local home. The work is from 1911 of Ivan the Terrible, which, was stolen from the Dniropetrovsk Art Museum during WWII under Nazi occupation. It was discovered after David and Gabby Tracy transported it from Ridgefield to Washington DC in attempts to sell it at auction. Standing nearly 2.5 metres tall, the retired couple didn’t realise what they had on their hands was a signed original.
The FBI intervened following receival of an email from the Ukrainian museum to the auctioning house commissioned to sell it. The museum identified the painting as a work by Mikhail Panin, titled The Secret Departure of Ivan the Terrible Before the Oprichnina. FBI officials took custody of the painting and later traced it to a Swiss man who sold the Ridgefield home in 1962. Officials didn’t release his name but said he moved to the US in 1946 after serving in the Swiss Army. He died in 1986. After learning it had been stolen, the Tracy couple agreed the painting should be returned to Ukraine.
Incidentally, the auction house appraised the 108-year-old work at 5 000 USD. The reality is that it is worth many times more.