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Painting Found in Trash Could Fetch 1 Million

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NEW YORK —  A painting stolen 20 years ago was found lying in trash along a street, and now it could fetch up to $1 million at auction.

Elizabeth Gibson didn't know anything about the brightly colored abstract work she spotted on her morning walk four years ago on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Sotheby's auction house will be selling the work next month for the original owner.

It turned out that it was a 1970 painting titled "Tres Personajes" (Three People) by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, whose work has soared in value in recent years.

A Houston couple whose names were not disclosed purchased the work _ an oil on canvas with marble dust and sand worked into the paint _ in 1977 at Sotheby's. It was stolen in 1987 from a warehouse where they had placed it while moving.

August Uribe, Sotheby's senior vice president of Impressionist and modern art, said in an interview Tuesday that the husband paid $55,000 for it as a gift for his wife.

Sotheby's said it could bring up to $1 million when it is sold at its Latin American Art auction on Nov. 20. Gibson will receive the $15,000 reward the couple put up when it was stolen, plus an undisclosed percentage of the sale of the painting.


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