The police said Monday that it is searching for a painting which allegedly disappeared from a storage room in the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province.
The request for the investigation came from Yoo Chong-ha, the South Korean Red Cross President and former foreign minister, who is looking for his oil painting by Albert Schenck, a Dutch artist, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.
Yoo bought the painting from a Belgium art dealer in 1988 and entrusted it to the museum in 1988 for restoration. He left the painting there after the work was finished but recently found out that the painting was gone and requested an investigation last July.
The missing painting by Albert Schenck (Yonhap News)
The case is controversial as it is against the museum regulations to accept individuals’ personal collections for storage or restoration. Yoo is known to have left the painting with the museum without going through official steps.
“The painting was displayed at the official residence of the foreign minister until March 1998, but was later given to the National Museum of Korea for repair works and valuation. The museum had regularly displayed different artworks at the residence, so I had the painting moved to the museum to ask an expert if some ruined parts of the painting could be fixed,” said Yoo.
“I followed an expert’s opinion that I cannot gain possession of the painting even though I find the painting in the market if I don’t file a theft report,” he said.
An official at the museum confirmed that judging from a variety of circumstances, an official in charge of restoration had worked on the painting work but the request for restoration from Yoo was not officially registered.
“It is assumed that the restoration official received the painting and repaired it at Yoo’s personal request. The work is not recorded in the museum’s collection list. The official retired in 1998 and other officials from that time have all left the museum and there is no record left,“ said the museum official.
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)