Bellows, however, who buys and sells photos worldwide through the Joseph Bellows Gallery, got a call the week of March 7, a few days before he had to leave for New York to participate in the annual Association of International Photography Art Dealers show. The caller wanted to know if Bellows would be interested in the photo.
“I said we were very interested,” Bellows said. “But this fellow wanted us to send payment for the picture before seeing it. I told him we don’t operate that way. We’d need to see the print. We were concerned about provenance and condition, and he was reluctant.”
Bellows had to leave for New York on March 13, but stayed in contact with the seller. At the same time, he researched the photo, discovering the Prague incident on the Internet. He contacted the Art Loss Register, who checked with the museum, confirmed the loss of the photo, and cooperated with Bellows to get the photo back.
“I thought I better recover the photograph before he goes underground, destroys it, or tries to sell it to someone who is not going to return it,” Bellows said. “So I convinced him to send it to me, knowing it was stolen, so I could repatriate it.”
Local Art Dealer Recovers the Goods (Sign On San Diego)