Suspect sought in case of stolen Renoir painting

September 21, 2011 4:08:45 PM PDT
An armed robber got away with a prized painting during a home invasion in west Houston and police are asking anyone who've seen the artwork to call them.

The Renoir painting was swiped earlier this month during a home invasion near Woodway and Chimney Rock.

Houston police and Crime Stoppers are asking for information leading to an arrest in the case of the stolen Renoir painting. And since thefts of big-time impressionist art are so unusual, they're confident that asking the community for help will turn up some leads.

The burglar took the Renoir painting from a home in the upscale neighborhood around Woodway and Chimney Rock near the Galleria back on September 8. The artwork called 'Madeleine Leaning on Her Elbow with Flowers in Her Hair' was painted by Pierre-Auguste Renoir in 1918. Today it's valued at around $1 million.

"It's a Renoir painting. It's highly recognizable. Someone who's in possession of that property can easily be identified," said Katherine Cabaniss, Executive Director of Crime Stoppers.

The suspect is described only as a white man wearing a ski mask. He had a black semi-automatic gun and pointed it at the victim and demanded money and jewelry. Then, police say, he pointed at the painting, and demanded it. He left with the painting still in its frame. The victim was not injured.

The Renoir stolen from the house was part of a private collection now housed at the Vaughan Christopher Gallery on S. Shepherd.

A neighboring business owner says there's been an extra constable presence there since the painting was stolen. And Cabaniss is confident that someone knows something about the case.

"It's unusual to see a burglary in which such unique property is stolen," she said.

Anyone with information on the suspect or the painting is urged to contact the HPD Robbery Division at 713-308-0700 or Crime Stoppers.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at www.crime-stoppers.org that leads to the filing of charges or arrest of the suspect(s) in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.


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