A long-lost painting by German artist Sigmar Polke worth around $590,000 has been recovered by police from an apartment in Germany, less than a year after it was stolen and being offered for sale.
Police seized the painting, which disappeared from a gallery after Polke’s death in 2010, from a private residence in Mainz.
“In November 2020, the criminal police in Mainz received a reference to an offer to sell the painting [“Vasen Linsenbild”], police said in a press release.
An investigation led police to suspects identified as two men, ages 43 and 48, and a woman, age 39.
The painting was recovered after the District Court in Mainz issued a search warrant of private premises on May 26.
The 111- x 92-centimeter (about 44 x 36 inches) painting, “Vasen Linsenbild” (Flowers in a Vase), was verified by artists from the BKA (Bundeskriminalamt), the German Federal Criminal Police Office, police said in their press release.
“The current market value of the painting is estimated at a mid-range six-figure sum,” police said.
Polke was an experimental artist who used non-traditional materials — like meteorite dust — to produce unusual effects.
He is widely considered to be one of the most influential artists of the post-war era. The current auction record for Polke of $27 million, was set in May 2015 at Sotheby’s for “Dschungel” (Jungle).
Polke’s work was praised during his lifetime: He won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice Biennale in 1986. His works are included in collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London, the Kunstmuseum Bonn, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
He had traveled the world multiple times, experimented with psychedelic drugs in an effort to capture the sense of alternative vision in his work, and for 14 years taught at the Hamburg Academy of Fine Arts. He almost never granted interviews, and he rarely wrote or spoke about the meaning of his art, according to Ideel Art.
In the 1970s, Polke chose photography, returning to paint in the 1980s, when he produced abstract works created by chance through chemical reactions between paint and other products. In the last 20 years of his life, he produced history-themed paintings.
No further details have been reported about the other paintings from Polke’s collection that disappeared in 2010.
(Edited by Angie Ivan and Judith Isacoff)
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