After 54 Years, Stolen Painting Returned to Rightful Owner

British artist John Opie painted The Schoolmistress in 1784. Earl Leroy Wood and his wife bought the painting in the 1930s in London for $7500 and took it back to their home in Newark, New Jersey. It was stolen during a break-in in 1969. One of the men who stole it admitted it and named his two accomplices during his trial in 1975, but by then the painting itself was long gone. The three men involved in the theft, and the Woods have all since died.

Fast forward to 2021, when the painting was flagged by appraisers examining an estate in Utah. The FBI was contacted, and this month the painting was finally returned to 96-year-old Francis Wood, Earl Leroy Wood's son. But where had the painting been all those years? Its path from Newark to Florida to Utah has been partially traced, with hints of organized crime involved, but we may never know the full story. Read what we do know about the journey of The Schoolmistress at Smithsonian. 

(Image credit: FBI)

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