A small Renoir, originally said to have been bought at a flea market for $7 and then discovered to have been stolen from a Baltimore museum a more than a half-century ago, may have been in the “owner’s” possession the whole time, according to new reports emerging in the Washington Post.
Martha Fuqua is the woman at the center of the mystery. But her brother told the Washington Post that the artwork had been in the family for many years:
“[My mother has] had it for a long time, probably 50 or 60 years,” Matt told The Post in an initial interview. “My girlfriend and her friends were cleaning out my mom’s studio, and my sister stepped in and said, ‘Wow, I want this.’ All I know is my sister didn’t just go buy it at a flea market. . . . My sister kind of snagged it out of my mom’s art studio.”
Matt added that his mother and sister “are keeping me out of the loop. It was supposed to be mine,” he said.
But when a Post reporter called him a second time, he said he had just spoken with his sister and was changing his account. “She said, ‘Matt, you don’t know what you’re talking about. I got it at a flea market,’ ” he said. “I don’t know the facts.”
Representatives from a regional auction house have been interviewed who say Ms. Fuqua brought the work to them long before she claims to have bought it at a flea market.
“A lot of people come in here and say, ‘I think I have X, Y, Z – can you verify it for me?’ But (Fuqua) was very adamant she had a Renoir,” said the Quinn’s decorative arts specialist who dealt with Fuqua last June and who asked to remain anonymous. “I immediately asked her, ‘Where did you get this from?’ and she said, ‘I got it from an estate.’ A red flag went up. Typically, an estate would know if it had a high-end painting by such an artist.”
‘Renoir Girl’ unmasked as Loudoun County’s Marcia ‘Martha’ Fuqua (Washington Post)