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Painting stolen from Valence House in the 70s found on sale in the USA

Stolen PaintingTags Adults , Children , Council , Family , Residents

An 18th century painting stolen from Valence House during a burglary has been returned to the museum - almost half a century after it was taken.

The oil painting of Rear Admiral Charles Fanshawe was one of six family portraits looted during a break-in in September 1971.

The thieves made off with the pictures, which had been valued at more than £1,500 at the time, in a stolen council van and despite having little evidence to go on, the Met Police quickly recovered two of the missing pieces along with all six frames. 

Over the next four decades, the museum tried unsuccessfully to locate the remaining canvases until a tip-off was received earlier this year about a painting of Rear Admiral Charles Fanshawe being put up for auction in Philadelphia, USA. 

The Met Police’s Art and Antiques Unit contacted the FBI (the Federal Bureau of Investigation) Art Crime Team in Philadelphia and after meeting with the American Embassy, along with the help of also the FBI Legal Attaché in London and the Upper Dublin Police Department, the museum was able to secure the return of the portrait, which is thought to have been painted around 1750.

We are absolutely delighted to welcome home this portrait of one of our borough’s important figures almost 50 years after it was stolen.

They say a picture tells a thousand words and in the case of this painting, this is another long and dramatic tale added to its rich tapestry. 

Councillor Saima Ashraf, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Community Leadership and Engagement, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome home this portrait of one of our borough’s important figures almost 50 years after it was stolen.
 
“They say a picture tells a thousand words and in the case of this painting, this is another long and dramatic tale added to its rich tapestry. 

“We’d like to thank the police and the FBI for their continued support in pursuing this piece of art and we look forward to being able to share this historic masterpiece with our residents once again.” 

The paintings were donated to the museum in 1963 by Captain Aubrey Fanshawe, who served during the First World War.

The Fanshawe’s were lords of the manor of Barking between 1628 and 1857 and lived in homes across the borough. 

There are currently 72 portraits of the Fanshawe’s held at Valence House.

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