ARTWORK FOUND: Art stolen in 1991 returns to Van Wezel, found at local estate sale in Sarasota

ARTWORK FOUND: Art stolen in 1991 returns to Van Wezel, found at local estate sale in Sarasota

SARASOTA (WWSB) - An unusual painting sparked interest during a local estate sale and lead to a 1991 Sarasota art piece recovered.

Eric Bowyer discovered the Jon Corbino’s piece, named “Palette,” in the Palm Aire subdivision of Sarasota and recognized the artist’s name. He ended up purchasing the painting for $25.

Why is this artwork important? “Palette,” landed in the Suncoast by Mrs. William Flook, of Sarasota, who presented it to the Fine Arts Society in March of 1972 in memory of her late husband. The art piece was created for a gallery owner in Great Neck, New York named Eva Lee, according to the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota.

Mysteriously the painting went missing in the last weekend of November 1991 from the Van Wezel. According to the Fine Arts Society, they believe the artwork was stolen while the Gatlin Brothers, George Burns, or the Sarasota Choral Society performed.

The son of the painter Michael Corbino said because the painting was so unusual, he believed whoever stole it would have a hard time selling or displaying it without attracting attention. "The art world is really quite small. I have a feeling this is going to show up sooner or later.”

As Bowyer purchased the painting he inquired if the seller knew anything about the piece. Bowyer was told by the homeowner’s son that, years ago, a man asked his mother to store some paintings at her house and the man never came back for them.

After hearing this story, researching the painting led Bowyer to Jon Corbino’s daughter, Lee Corbino of Lee Corbino Galleries, who informed him the painting had been stolen from the Fine Arts Society’s collection in 1991. Bowyer then got in touch with the organization and presented them with the piece of art.

The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota believes this art discovery was just in time as they celebrate their 50th anniversary and learn more details about Corbino.

It was an amazing surprise having this very special, long-lost painting returned to the Fine Arts Society. In preparing to celebrate our 50th anniversary this year, we delved into the archives and found a trove of interesting details about our history, including the saga of this striking Corbino. We are so very grateful to Eric Bowyer for returning this important painting to us. ‘Palette’ will be rehung in a prominent place within our art collection, joining more than 50 of our artworks currently displayed at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall," Vern Livingston Weitz, president of the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota.

Fine Arts Society Art Collection Tours has stated “Palette” is not on display yet, but if people are interested in visiting the collections contact (941) 330-0680 or visit their website.

Copyright 2019 WWSB. All rights reserved.