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via The Granger Collection, New York
New York

Doorman claims he found missing $1m painting in some bushes

The man claims that he didn’t know the value of the artwork, which he hung in his bathroom.

A MISSING MASTERPIECE that vanished in mysterious circumstances six weeks ago was allegedly displayed, for part of that time, on the bathroom wall of a doorman working on Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

The doorman, Franklin Puentes, told police that he found the painting, “Portrait of a Girl” by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, in the bushes outside the building where he worked.

The painting had been reported missing by the owner – after a courier showing it to a prospective buyer allegedly got drunk and lost it.

Puentes said that he assumed the 1800s-era painting belonged to someone in the building where he worked and tried to find them. He says that he kept the masterpiece in his locker while he attempted to track down the owner.

When he couldn’t, he brought it home and put it on his bathroom wall, he says.

He told investigators that his friends had told him the painting appeared valuable, and when he researched it he discovered it was a missing masterpiece at the centre of a legal battle.

Puentes brought it that day to the 19th Precinct station house and turned it over to police. The FBI then took possession of the artwork.

Authorities are investigating Puentes’s story and have not charged him.

However, the New York Post reports that a source within the police force said:

The doorman brought it in to the 19th Precinct at 3 p.m. on Sept. 12. He found the painting at the end of July. He doesn’t know the date. He went away on a three week vacation and stored the painting in his locker at the building where he works. He says he found it outside the building. His story is definitely weird. It doesn’t make sense.