ARTWORK REDISCOVERED 40 YEARS AFTER STOLEN FROM NEW JERSEY FAMILY
In 1954, Robert Grant made a fortunate mistake. Playing pool at a friend’s house, he drew his pool cue back too far and punctured a painting hanging on the wall.
It was a you-break-it-you-buy-it moment, and after paying less than $100 for the artwork, Grant went home with a 26-by-24-inch oil on canvas by Norman Rockwell.
“It very well could have been the best mistake of Mr. Grant’s life,” FBI special agent Jacob B. Archer told The New York Times.
The Rockwell painting, titled Lazybones, is being offered at Heritage Auctions’ American Art auction scheduled for Nov. 3, 2017. The art, used on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post’s Sept. 6, 1919 edition, is expected to sell for at least $1 million.
Where does the FBI come into this story? The painting was stolen from the Grant family’s New Jersey home in 1976. The FBI recovered it earlier this year after images of the stolen work appeared in newspapers.
“It’s unbelievable,” Grant’s son John told The Times, which noted his father passed away in 2004. “The dream came true, and my dad would be so happy.”
The artwork is among the earliest of the 300-plus covers Rockwell illustrated for the magazine, says Aviva Lehmann, director of American Art at Heritage Auctions in New York. “Rockwell chronicled iconic visions of American life,” Lehmann says. “He crafted images of optimism that reflected his faith in America and its people, and this piece is an early part of that story.”