A Stolen $100,000 Chagall Print Might Actually Be Worth Far Less

A band of thieves made off with the lithograph from a New York City gallery in September.

Marc Chagall. Eve. (1971). Photo courtesy of Bonhams

A print by Marc Chagall, stolen by thieves from a gallery in New York City and said to be worth $100,000, might not actually be nearly that valuable, according to an anonymous tip from an Artnet News reader.

In September, a band of thieves made off with a lithograph, Eve (1971), by Chagall from Carlton Fine Arts on Madison Avenue, and were still on the run more than a month after the heist, as previously reported.

In remarks to WNBC after the work was stolen, the gallery’s owner Charles Saffati said the print was “a $100,000 piece.” When asked about the high price by Artnet News, he said that figure was “based on the retail value.”

Soon after, an eagle-eyed reader emailed saying a print from the same edition of 50 sold at a Phillips New York auction in April for just $12,065 including buyer’s premium, more than 70% above its presale estimate of $5,000 to $7,000, according to Artnet’s Price Database.

When asked if there was anything special about the stolen print that would account for the tens of thousands more in value, Saffati said “I don’t know at this moment; I don’t know what was sold at that value but okay.”

“We did not make an insurance claim by the way,” Saffati added. He also confirmed that he does not have the piece in his possession and that the Chagall print was the only one stolen at the time.

The print sold at Phillips was numbered seven in the edition. It was not immediately clear what number print was stolen from Carlton Fine Arts. Meanwhile, print number 44 sold for £5,737.50 including fees (around $8,600 today, accounting for inflation) at a Bonhams auction in 2021. And print number 15 sold for $6,000, below its $8,000 estimate, at an auction in 2015.

“So, in conclusion students, the thieves walked away with an $8,000 print, being marketed for $100,000…and the thieves will be trying to fence it for $50,000 at best,” our tipster wrote. “What an industry.”

The NYPD was hunting for three suspects in the heist as of last month: a man described as having a light complexion and a medium build, and a man described as having a dark complexion and a medium build, and a third person for whom no description was provided.

 

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