Barbara Castelli holding back a broad smile
A multimillion-dollar Roy Lichtenstein painting of an electrical cord that was sent out for a cleaning 42 years ago and disappeared was returned to its owner on Tuesday.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, calling the recovery of missing or stolen art an “important mission” for the federal government, stood near the 1961 black-and-white painting, “Electric Cord,” as he described how American art dealer Leo Castelli bought it in the 1960s for $750.
“It is now worth about $4 million,” Bharara said. “Returning stolen art and artifacts is an important mission of this office, and it is always gratifying when we are successful…”
Castelli sent the painting to an art restorer for cleaning in January 1970 and never got it back. He died in 1999. The painting resurfaced six years after the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation published an image of it on its holiday greeting card in 2006 and asked the art community to help find it.
Castelli’s widow, Barbara Bertozzi Castelli, said she plans to display it in her Manhattan home “if I find a place to hang it.” She said she had never seen it before Tuesday.
Bharara declined to say whether criminal charges will be filed against anyone in connection with the painting’s disappearance.
RTFA for the whole telenovela, the journey of the painting, return to the US and return to Mrs. Castelli.