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Iowa History Daily: March 19 - Marshalltown's Monet Heist

Iowa History Daily: On March 19, 1987, a thief lifted an original Monet painting from the Fisher Community Center in Marshalltown. An unusual art heist, the painting resurfaced nearly a year later, almost as unexpectedly as it originally disappeared.

Shortly before the community center closed at 10:00 p.m. someone entered the building, used a sharp object to slice the painting from the frame bolted to the wall, and fled. An alarm attached to the frame notified the police who responded within sixty seconds only to hear a watchman report he saw a man disappearing into the night with the rolled-up painting. The painting of fishing boats valued at $300,000 was gone.

While the community center staff, the police, and the insurance company tried to piece together the burglary. “'We did everything we could to make it hard to sell. We contacted everyone from museums to art galleries to foundations that search for stolen paintings to let them know it was stolen,” said Marshalltown Police Lieutenant Darrell Templeton who headed up the investigation. 

In early March of 1988, the painting turned up just nine miles away in the small town of LeGrand. The local postmaster, Charles Polley, found the stolen masterpiece in a post dropbox while making his rounds early one morning. “I thought it was a piece of trash at first,” Polley said. “Then I saw it was a painting and it was hard to believe anyone would throw away something like this.” The painting soon returned to the Fisher Community Center, although the identity of the thief remains a mystery. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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