U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agents Recover Victorian-Era Paintings
ANCHORAGE - U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents recovered Victorian-era paintings that were allegedly stolen from a New England woman’s home seven years ago.
Court documents show Jesse Leboeuf and Loretta Sternbach were in possession of five paintings that were taken from Nicolette Wernick’s collection back in 2005.
“We do a reasonable number of investigations for wildlife related crimes, but I've never encountered fine art work, especially fine paintings in any of the stories I've been involved with,” said Bruce Woods, spokesperson for Fish & Wildlife.
According to court documents, Leboeuf and Loretta Sterbach were illegally selling walrus ivory and polar bear hides. During an undercover investigation detectives found the paintings belonged to Wernick, who filed a report about the missing art in October 2005.
“I mourned those paintings for four or five years because I started collecting in the early '70s and I loved my Victorian art. I really did, I adored it,” said Wernick.
She said the paintings were likely stolen by movers while she was transitioning to a new condo, but said she’s not sure why they targeted her art collection.
“It's not art that's instantly disposable that people are looking for; it's a very specialized area – Victorian art from England. So I don't know why they would have stolen it, they wouldn't get much money from it,” said Wernick.
Her insurance company paid her $400,000 for the stolen portraits. Now that they’ve been found she hopes she’ll get the chance to buy back the paintings that meant so much to her.