Stolen painting worth $1 million found in trash

Woman recovered 1970 artwork by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo

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

Elizabeth Gibson didnt know anything about the brightly colored work she spotted on her morning walk four years ago on Manhattans upper West Side, but she said she took it home because it had a strange power.

I know nothing of modern art but it didnt seem right for any piece of art to be discarded like that, Gibson told the Sothebys auction house.

It turned out that it was a 1970 painting by Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo, titled Tres Personajes (Three People), and had been stolen more than 20 years ago.

Gibson said she learned of the works worth when her research led her to the Web site of Antiques Roadshow FYI, a companion program to the PBS show Antiques Roadshow.

Sothebys expert August Uribe had featured the painting on Antiques Roadshow FYI after it was stolen.

Sothebys says Tres Personajes is an important work that represents the artists mature period.

The painting was returned to the original owners, who wish to remain anonymous.

The New York Times said the couple paid $55,000 for it. Sothebys says it could bring up to $1 million when it is sold at its Latin American Art auction on Nov. 20.

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