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Tuesday
Aug162011

Stolen Rembrandt Recovered at California Church

Comstock/Thinkstock(ENCINO, Calif.) -- A 17th century Rembrandt sketch swiped from a luxury hotel in Marina del Ray, Calif., has been recovered at a nearby church by police acting on an anonymous tip.

The 11-by-6-inch sketch was found on church grounds in Encino just early Tuesday morning, police said. Los Angeles County Sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore told ABC News that investigators had received an anonymous call with a tip about the location of the drawing late Monday evening.

"The reason why this tip was called into us was because they saw all the coverage. They saw it, and then they remembered seeing this in a church in Encino," said Whitmore in a televised press conference on Tuesday.

Whitmore added that the piece has been verified as the original by the Linearis Institute, a luxury art collector group that sponsored the exhibit from which the piece had been filched.

No suspects have been arrested.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office had said that they suspected the case was a "well-thought and well-planned theft."

The theft occurred at the exhibit while a supervising curator was "distracted by another person," investigators said in a statement. The curator, whose name has not been publicly released, has not been charged in connection with the theft, said Whitmore.

"The good news is that we have recovered the object that had been reported stolen. It is in our evidence locker, and we'll be dusting it for fingerprints as part of an exacting forensic examination and will lead us to the next step in our investigation," said Whitmore.

The quill pen and ink drawing by master artist Rembrandt van Rijin -- titled "The Judgment" -- was reported stolen from the art exhibit held in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton Marina del Rey last weekend. The sketch, dated circa 1655, has been valued at more than $250,000.

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