A 1961 painting by pop art master Roy Lichtenstein has been discovered in a New York warehouse after having been reported stolen in 1970.
A New York judge signed a temporary restraining order on Tuesday barring the Lichtenstein work Electric Cord from being sold or moved from an Upper East Side warehouse until an Aug. 6 hearing to determine the painting's fate. An ownership dispute may be brewing over the work.
The black and white canvas, which depicts a tightly coiled electrical cord, was found last week.
Lichtenstein painted Electric Cord in the 1961 and sold it for $750 US to art collector Leo Castelli, who mounted one of his first solo exhibitions. The work disappeared in 1970, when Castelli's gallery sent it out for cleaning.
His widow Barbara Castelli, who inherited the gallery when her husband died in 1999, had officially listed the work as lost/stolen with the international database Art Loss Registry in 2007. Last week she received a call from the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation, which had been contacted for assistance in authenticating Electric Cord.
According to Castelli's estimate, the painting is worth approximately $4 million US.
The painting had been shipped to the New York warehouse from a Bogota gallery, after having been recently been on display in Colombia, according to court records.
Art dealer James Goodman, who had contacted the foundation, told The New York Post he had no idea the work was stolen and that the current owners had said they had an invoice showing they bought Electric Cord from the late Castelli.
Lichtenstein, one of the leading lights of the American pop art movement, died in 1997. His works continue to fetch lofty prices at auction, including his iconic 1964 canvas Sleeping Girl, which Sotheby's sold in May for nearly $44.8 million US.