AN 18th century painting stolen from Valence House Museum in Dagenham, during a burglary has been returned to the museum – almost half a century after it was taken.
The oil painting of Rear Admiral Charles Fanshawe was one of six family portraits burgled during a break-in in September 1971.
The thieves made off with the pictures, which had been valued at more than £1,500 at the time, in a stolen council van and despite having little evidence to go on, the Met Police quickly recovered two of the missing pieces along with all six frames.
Over the next four decades, the museum tried unsuccessfully to locate the remaining canvases until a tip-off was received earlier this year about a painting of Rear Admiral Charles Fanshawe being put up for auction in Philadelphia, USA.
The Met Police’s Art and Antiques Unit contacted the FBI’s Art Crime Team in Philadelphia along with the help of the FBI Legal Attaché in London and the Upper Dublin Police Department, the museum was able to secure the return of the portrait, which is thought to have been painted around 1750.
Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “We are delighted to welcome home this portrait of one of our borough’s important figures almost 50 years after it was stolen.
“They say a picture tells a thousand words and in the case of this painting, this is another long and dramatic tale added to its rich tapestry.”