FBI recovers Norman Rockwell painting stolen in New Jersey in 1976

EMBED </>More Videos

ABC's Aaron Katersky reports on the discovery of a painting stolen four decades ago. (WPVI)

Four decades after it was stolen, the FBI has recovered a million dollar piece of art.

The Norman Rockwell painting was stolen back in 1976 from a home in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and on Friday, it was returned to its owner. Though the thief remains on the loose, authorities say that person likely wouldn't be charged due to a statute of limitations.

"We were blown away when they said they recovered it," owner Susan Murta said. "Just to see it is spectacular. We are very happy."

The painting, sometimes called "Lazybones" or "Boy Asleep with Hoe," graced the cover of the Sept. 6, 1919, edition of the Saturday Evening Post. The oil-on-canvas piece was among several items taken during a 1976 break-in in Cherry Hill, a Philadelphia suburb.

Murta's father, Robert Grant, originally owned the painting and has since passed away. She said he always knew the family would see the painting again.

"He was crushed when it was stolen because he loved it," she said. "He would be thrilled right now and beyond elated to get it back, because it meant a lot to him and he really enjoyed it and loved it and was proud of it."

The person who had the painting came forward following a media blitz by the FBI designed to generate new leads in the case. That person was unaware the painting had been stolen, the FBI said.

Agents wouldn't say where, but they confirm the painting was recovered in the Philadelphia area. They say the person who returned it wants to remain anonymous.

"The person who turned over the painting is not involved with the theft and as a result will face no charges, and has been a tremendous asset to this investigation and has been fully cooperative," Special Agent Jake Archer said. "We are very thankful for that citizen's help."

The Grant family purchased the Rockwell painting back in the 1950s for less than $100 after it was damaged during a pool game at the original owner's home. The painting that could tell so many stories became a story, and now, the family has a good ending to tell for years to come.

"My father always said they would find it, and they would show up one day, and I sort of believed the same thing," Murta said. "So pleasantly surprised and happy, but I certainly knew it would happen."

The family was given a $15,000 payment from the insurance company to compensate them for the loss back in 1976.

Today, the painting is estimated to be worth $1 million. Murta said the family will store the painting as they decide what to do with it next.

Related Topics:
theftartNew Jersey
(Copyright ©2018 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.)