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Stolen Sigmar Polke Painting Found in German Apartment

Stolen Sigmar Polke Painting Found in German Apartment

Less than a year after it was stolen, a Sigmar Polke painting of flowers in a vase has been found in a private residence in Mainz, Germany.

The police in Germany’s Rheinland-Pfalz region, where Mainz is located, said that the work had been taken from a Cologne gallery in November of last year. German police did not name the art space where the work had been held, however, and details of the theft have “not yet been conclusively clarified,” the police said in the release announcing the find. (A CV posted by David Zwirner gallery, which represents Polke’s estate, does not include mention of any exhibitions featuring the artist’s work in Cologne in 2020.)

Titled Vasen Linsenbild, the painting is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, German police said. (A date for the work was not supplied in the announcement.) That means it is nowhere near as expensive as Polke’s most high-priced works, which regularly sell for millions of dollars at auction. The artist’s current auction record was set in 2015 when his 1967 painting Dschungel (Jungle) sold for $27.1 million at Sotheby’s.

Polke, who died in 2010, is beloved in Europe for his paintings, photographs, and sculptures that critiqued consumerism and the political state of Germany in the postwar era. In 2014, Polke was the subject of a retrospective that showed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and Tate Modern in London.

Mainz’s police force said that they were tipped off to attempts to sell the work the same month that it was stolen. Three unidentified people—a 43-year-old man, a 48-year-old man, and a 39-year-old woman—were suspected of having played a role in the theft, and an apartment in Mainz was searched. The painting has been authenticated as a Polke by experts, according to the police.

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