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Published: Tuesday, 11/14/2006

Toledo museum painting is stolen

Children with a Cart is insured for $1 million. Children with a Cart is insured for $1 million.
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A 1778 oil painting by the Spanish artist Goya, owned by the Toledo Museum of Art, was stolen while being delivered to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

The piece, Children with a Cart, was insured for just over $1 million and was in the hands of a professional art transporter when it was snatched Wednesday in the Scranton, Pa., area. The transport vehicle was unattended at the time of theft, said Jerri Williams, spokesman for the FBI's Philadelphia division, which is leading the investigation.

The I-80 corridor, the most direct route for transporting something from Toledo to New York, passes by the Scranton area. However, Ms. Williams declined to discuss details of the theft, such as the name of the transporter and whether the heist occurred during an eating or rest stop.

She said the FBI is withholding details so that when tips come in, investigators can determine which are accurate. No tips have yet been received, she said.

A reward of up to $50,000 is being offered by the insurer for information leading to the Goya's return.

Children with a Cart was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art in 1959. It's part of a series of paintings that Goya - whose full name is Francisco de Goya y Lucientes - made for the Royal Tapestry Factory of Santa Barbara in Spain illustrating a variety of fashions popular in the late 18th century.

The painting was being loaned to the Guggenheim Museum for its exhibition, "Spanish Painting from El Greco to Picasso: Time, Truth, and History," which opens Friday.

It's believed to be the first piece of art the Toledo museum has lost to theft in its 105-year history, said Jordan Rundgren, spokesman for the museum, which announced the theft late yesterday afternoon.

Ms. Rundgren said it would be impossible to find a legitimate buyer for the work. She said the theft would not change the museum's policy of loaning works.

Nearly one year ago, on Nov. 18, 2005, paintings by Andy Warhol and Jackson Pollock were stolen in a sophisticated heist from the Everhart Museum in Scranton.

"At this point there's no reason to believe it's anything more than a coincidence," said FBI agent Williams, who would not reveal the name of the company transporting the piece.

Anyone with information about the theft can report it to the FBI's Philadelphia division at 215-418-4000.

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