A St. Louis man had a precious possession returned to this morning after he thought he'd never see it again.
It's an original oil on canvas 1926 painting by Spanish artist Juan Gris. It was stolen during a burglary in his home in April 2004. After St. Louis detectives determined the painting was in South Florida, the case went cold, until about a year ago. That's when the FBI in Miami got a tip. Undercover agents posed as buyers and bused Robert Dibartolo of Ft. Pierce, Florida. Dibartolo is serving one year in federal prison.
Upon seeing his painting for the first time in six years Wednesday morning Hyatt said, "I'm overwhelmed to be able to receive this painting back which I have had for probbably 45 to 50 years."
He said it evoked memories of his time in Spain.
The piece suffered some water damage. FBI investigators say DiBartolo was not an art expert and had not stored it properly.
Clifton Hyatt did not take questions from the media during his brief appearance at FBI headquarters in downtown St. Louis and he did not say what he is going to do with his precious painting.
"I cannot speak highly enough or complementary enough of all the Federal Bureau of Investigation's efforts," said Hyatt.
It's still unclear who stole the piece from Hyatt's home back in 2004 but the FBI says it was likely someone who knew he had it.
Mark Schnyder is a reporter at KMOV-TV. He can be reached at email@example.com.