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Wednesday, 20 February, 2002, 08:37 GMT
Postroom painting is ransom Chagall
Study for Over Vitebsk
Chagall's painting was a draft for a later work
A painting found in a Kansas postroom last month has been authenticated as a Marc Chagall stolen last year from the Jewish Museum in New York.

The Russian painter's Study for Over Vitebsk, is believed to be worth $1m (690,000).

Bella Meyer, a granddaughter of the artist and a leading authority on his work, examined the 1914 gouache, a spokesman for the museum said.

Looking at the painting outside its frame, Meyer found a group of numbers, whose significance is not known, on the back.

She recognised these as being in the hand of her grandfather, who often placed such markings on his canvases, the spokeswoman said.

Ransom

An FBI spokesman said the painting would remain in the agency's custody while the investigation into the theft continued.

The work was stolen some time between the start of a cocktail reception at the museum in June 2000 and the next morning.

A group calling itself the International Committee for Art and Peace later said the painting would be returned only after the Israelis and Palestinians made peace.

The Chagall was found when a package that had been declared undeliverable was opened for identification at the postal facility in Topeka, Kansas.

It was then sent back to New York for authentication.

The painting had been at the New York museum on loan from a private collection in Russia.

It shows an old man floating above a village carrying a walking stick and beggar's sack.

The final piece, Over Vitebsk, was also painted in 1914.

See also:

06 Jul 98 | Entertainment
Chagall and the art of passion and drama
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