Days after it was stolen from a Los Angeles hotel, a pen and ink drawing by the 17th-century Dutch great Rembrandt was recovered at a church. How the $250,000 artwork got there is a mystery, especially considering that police said the heist was elaborate and professional and likely involved more than one person.
The Los Angeles Times reports, today, that the drawing was found by Father Michael Cooper, an assistant priest at St. Nicholas of Myra Episcopal Church in Encino. He opened the door to his office Monday night and noticed the framed drawing just inside.
At first he thought it was a donation, but upon closer inspection, it hit him: It was the "The Judgment," the 1655 work that had been plastered all over the news after it was stolen from the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey.
The Times adds:
"We are a church. It is a place of reconciliation," said Cooper, a former L.A. County sheriff's deputy who serves as a volunteer chaplain for the Los Angeles Police Department.
Cooper's office, lined with religious books and filled with imposing wood furniture, is in a bungalow just outside the main church, a 1939 Mission style structure with large brass doors on Ventura Boulevard. Cooper said someone apparently sneaked in when his assistant pastor left the bungalow for a few minutes.
"The door was unlocked and propped open," he said. "Somebody may have driven by and seen the lights."
Detectives believe the thieves panicked over the attention the case has received and decided to dump the Rembrandt.
The piece, points out the Times, is titled "The Judgment," after all.
Here's some video of LAPD at a press conference with the recovered piece: