A Painting Stolen From a Museum in Glasgow Has Been Returned After More Than 30 Years

The work by Robert Gemmell Hutchison was reportedly worth about $9,721 when it was taken, in 1989.

Robert Gemmell Hutchison. Children Wading. Photo courtesy of Glasgow Life

A painting that was taken in a heist from the now-closed Haggs Castle Museum of Childhood in 1989 has been returned to Glasgow Museums, a network of museums in the Scottish city.

Robert Gemmell Hutchison’s painting Children Wading was stolen from the museum along with other artifacts when burglars deactivated the alarm system, climbed a ladder, and hopped in through an upstairs window, the Herald Scotland newspaper reported at the time. At the time, the painting was worth about £8,000 ($9,721), according to the report. The museum closed in 1998.

The painting was listed on the Art Loss Register, a private register and company dedicated to retrieving missing art and artifacts, and ultimately put up for sale with Tennants Auctioneers by a family unaware it had been stolen, the BBC Radio 4’s Front Row program first reported.

Tennants Auctioneers confirmed by email it was the gallery involved but declined further comment. Art Loss did not return a request for comment by press time.

Glasgow Life Museums, the nonprofit that operates the city’s museums, thanked Tennants Auctioneers “and their kind consignor” for returning the painting, according to a statement it issued on behalf of the Art Loss Register.

“Tennant’s immediately withdrew the picture from sale and their consignor confirmed that the painting had formed part of their late father’s estate. The consignor was of course happy to see the picture returned to Glasgow once they learned of its past,” the statement reads.

“Where historic thefts are conclusively identified, we have robust processes in place including notifying the police and adding the items to the Art Loss Register which makes it difficult to secure sales at legitimate auctions,” Duncan Dornan, head of Glasgow Life Museums, said in the statement. “This is exactly the process which has led to the return of Children Wading by Robert Gemmel Hutchison to Glasgow. We are enormously grateful for the work of the Art Loss Register and the unsuspecting vendors for the safe return of a wonderful painting.”

Art Loss said that the company provided its services in aiding the recovery pro bono and is happy that the “sweet picture” will return to public view, according to the statement.

The news of the return came as it was revealed that another $3.7 million sculpture by Auguste Rodin has been missing from the Glasgow Museums collection for nearly 75 years. A plaster version of Les Bourgeois de Calais, one of many castings made by Rodin, was last seen in an exhibit in 1949.


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