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Thursday, 25 July, 2002, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Stolen Chagall returns to Russia
General keeper of the Russian Museum Ivan Karlov installs the Mark Chagall work Study for Over Vitebsk at the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg
The work went back on display on Wednesday
A stolen Chagall painting, which was held at ransom by thieves who demanded peace in the Middle East, has been returned to its Russian home.

The $1m (635,000) painting, Study for Over Vitebsk, was stolen in June 2001 from the Jewish Museum in New York, where it had been on loan.

A group calling itself the International Committee for Art and Peace sent a note saying it would not be returned until there was peace in the Middle East.

Mark Chagall's Study for Over Vitebsk at the Russian Museum in St Petersburg
The painting shows an old man floating above a village
But it was found in a Kansas post room in January 2002, and has now been returned to the Russian Museum in St Petersburg.

Its owner, an anonymous St Petersburg collector, requested that it be returned to the city's museum after it was recovered.

It has been in the museum's collection since 1992, and was unveiled on its return on Wednesday, 24 July.

It was found after the FBI were called when postal staff found it in an undeliverable package at the postal facility in Topeka, Kansas.

Bella Meyer, a granddaughter of the Russian artist and a leading authority on his work, examined the 1914 painting.

Markings

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.

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

It was a study for a larger, similar piece, called Over Vitebsk, which was also painted in 1914.

See also:

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