2007_10_tamayo.JPGThe NY Times delved into an amazing story of how a painting left for the trash was actually a long-missing painting by Rufino Tamayo, the Mexican artist. Someone, make this into a movie!

In 2003, Elizabeth Gibson rescued the colorful, 38 1/8"-by-51 1/4" painting at West 72nd Street and Broadway. After years of trying to trace its origins, Gibson finally caught a break when a helpful librarian at the Frick suggested she go to the Mary-Anne Martin gallery - which told her the painting was "famously stolen." She built a false wall to store the painting, which was so famously stolen that Sotheby's expert August Uribe filmed a segment on Antiques Roadshow about it in 2005! From the Times:

After Googling the artist’s name, she discovered an image of “Three People” at the “Antiques Roadshow” Web site in reference to the “Missing Masterpieces” segment.

Searching the Web in May, she discovered that the episode would be rebroadcast the next day in Baltimore. She traveled to Baltimore by bus and checked into a hotel to watch the segment.

Gibson contacted Uribe and met him using a fake name and accompanied by her minister. The painting is now being sold by the original owner, who received it from her husband as a gift (the couple put it in a Houston storage facility, where it went missing in 1987). The investigation into the theft is still ongoing, and as for Gibson, she will receive the original reward of $15,000 plus what the Times calls a "smaller" fee from Sotheby's.

Tres Personajes is Lot 20 in Sotheby's Latin American Art auction, and estimated between $750,000-1,000,000. You can see the painting at Sotheby's November 17-20 (more information here). And Octavio Paz is quoted in the catalog: "How can I define my attitude to Tamayo's work? It is a thing of gyration and gravitation; it attracts me and at the same time keeps me at a distance, like a sun."