A flea market is an unlikely place to find a famous and original French painting for just $7, but one woman happened to stumble upon just that. Marcia “Martha” Fuqua, also known as “Renoir girl,” reportedly bought the acclaimed painting at a flea market in West Virginia in 2009.
The painting, “Paysage Bords de Seine,” was an original Pierre-Auguste Renoir, worth an estimated $22,000. The small painting, made in 1879, was reported stolen from the Baltimore Museum of Art in 1951, while on exhibition.
In 2012, Fuqua attempted to sell the work at an auction under the alias “Renoir girl.” The auction company was thrilled when they found the painting to be authentic, and anticipated gaining at least $75,000 for the work. When the auction company publically released their plans to sell the painting, the Maryland museum came forth with documents stating that the piece had been stolen from it.
Due to the unknown ownership of the painting, the FBI had been holding it since October 2012. Fuqua was recently in court battling over the legal possession of the painting. However, because the painting had been stolen from the museum, the U.S. District Court judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that the piece be returned to the rightful owners.
After the hearing, Fuqua’s brother, Matt, came forward saying he was glad the museum would be getting their painting back. He claimed his sister was a liar and he was happy the truth was finally coming out. Matt Fuqua told reporters he believed someone had given the painting to his mother because he had seen it multiple times in her house prior to 2009.
The Fuquas’ mother, Marcia Fuqua, was an artist who replicated works from Renoir and other artists. Matt Fuqua said that he asked his mother many times where she had gotten the painting, but she would never say.
Despite sticking to her story of finding the Renoir painting at a flea market, Martha Fuqua’s case was not strong enough for her to walk away with the painting.
Information in this article was found in the Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post.