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The world thought a painting was destroyed in WWII. It was hanging in a Connecticut home

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How an Alexandria auction house solved the mystery.

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (WDVM) — A massive painting dating back to 1911, thought to have been destroyed during World War II in modern-day Ukraine (then Russia), has resurfaced.

Photo of painting taken in late 1920’s in what was then the Ekaterinoslav City Art Museum in Ukraine. 

A Connecticut couple moved into their home in Ridgefield, Ct. in 1987. The painting came with it. When it came time to downsize in 2017, the Tracy’s decided to auction it off. They eventually brought the piece down to the Potomack Company in Old Town, Alexandria, where a specialist got to work on researching the piece. She found an old Russian document with the painting’s title in it.

“We were not able to translate it in-house. We took it out, had it translated, and it said the painting had been destroyed during World War II,” said Elizabeth Wainstein, owner and CEO of the Potomack Company. “That set off some red flags.”

Left to right: Timothy Dunham, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Jennifer Pingle, daughter of Mr.and Mrs. Tracy; Valeriy Chaly, Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S.; Jessie Liu, U.S. Attorney’s Office of D.C., and Elizabeth Haynie Wainstein, owner and CEO of the Potomack Company.  

That’s when Wainstein called the FBI, which brought the U.S. Attorney’s Office in, which confirmed it was the original painting. Wainstein says the previous owner of the Connecticut home also purchased the house with the painting in it.

Earlier this month, the Potomack Company, repatriated the painting back to The Ukraine. Wainstein says it’s the first painting the U.S. has repatriated to the country.

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