Stolen Painting Turns Up in Steven Spielberg's Collection

A Norman Rockwell painting stolen more than 30 years ago has turned up in the art collection of movie director Steven Spielberg.

The painting, "Russian Schoolroom," was stolen from a gallery in Clayton, Mo., during a night robbery on June 25, 1973.

The FBI's Art Crime Team says the painting turned up for sale in New York in 1989, the same year Spielberg bought it from a legitimate dealer.

It was Spielberg's staff that alerted the FBI when they noticed the painting on a list of stolen art.

"They were gracious and responsible to come forward with that information," Assistant Special Agent Tom Noble told ABC News.

Noble said Spielberg's staff allowed FBI experts to authenticate the painting, which shows children at their desks facing a bust of Lenin.

The painting was worth about $20,000 when it was stolen. The FBI estimates it is worth about $700,000 today.

"It is just wonderful that it has been found," said Laurie Norton, director of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Mass. "It is good to know it was in safe hands, as Mr. Spielberg is a devoted and passionate collector of Norman Rockwell."

Spielberg is a trustee on the board of the Norman Rockwell Museum.

Norton said it is not uncommon for stolen paintings to turn up after decades, since thieves often wait for a case to go cold before putting a painting on the market.

The FBI is allowing Spielberg to keep the painting until it can be determined where it belongs.

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