Priceless Pickup: Owner-op charged in theft of masterpiece

CARLSTADT, N.J. — This would have made for a good Sopranos episode. A New Jersey owner-operator who claims he found an 18th century art masterpiece in his basement has been charged with stealing the work from a parked truck last year.

Francisco de Goya y Lucientes’
‘Children with a Cart,’ 1778.

The Associated Press reports that Steven Lee Olson, 49, of Carlstadt, N.J., was arrested at his home and charged with theft of an object of cultural heritage from a museum. If convicted, Olsen faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Federal prosecutors allege that Olsen removed the 1778 painting by famed Spanish artist Francisco de Goya painting from a truck parked at a motel in Stroudsburg, Penn. while the driver slept.

The painting was being trucked to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City from the Toledo Museum of Art. The million-dollar painting was discovered missing the next morning.

Several days after the artwork was reported stolen, Olson contacted federal authorities through an attorney to say he found the painting in his basement. After a lengthy investigation, authorities determined that Olson had lifted the piece himself, the FBI said in a prepared statement.

The painting has been returned undamaged to the Toledo museum.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.