The artworks were all created by Polish artist Hanna "Kali" Weynerowska. Before she died, she bequeathed all the works to a Polish museum in Switzerland. At this point, it seems, the paintings all mysteriously disappeared. It was not until a few years ago, when the Polish Ministry of Culture established a fund to locate them, that the search for the artworks was reignited.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that:
"...the FBI, contacted by the Polish government, tracked down a relative who led agents to a storage facility in Santa Rosa that held 75 Weynerowska originals. On Thursday, they arrived at the museum in Rapperswil, Switzerland, where Polish and U.S officials will attend a Ceremony of Restitution on June 16.
The paintings, in the artist's distinctive pointillist style, have such titles as "Boy on Donkey," "The Cobbler" and "Walking a Bird." Their financial value is modest, perhaps $12,000 each, but "they are priceless emotionally ... very important to the legacy of Polish excellence," Caria Tomczykowska, an envoy of the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, said Friday at a San Francisco news conference called by the FBI.
"The FBI is proud to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our Polish counterparts in ensuring safe passage of these lost national treasures," said David Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's San Francisco office.
He said the male relative, whom he didn't identify, had handed the paintings over voluntarily and isn't in legal trouble. Despite the artist's bequest, Johnson said one or more of her local relatives had apparently held on to the works since 1998 because of the costs of shipping them, and "perhaps a bit of emotional attachment."All's well that ends well. It does, however, seem very odd that the FBI and Polish governmental institutions were required to intervene to recover the paintings which were actually just being held by Weynerowska's relatives. Efficient allocation of resources??
Source: San Francisco Chronicle, 12 April 2014