Norman Rockwell painting returns home, 40 years after theft

Emily Murta, right, and Kaitlin Grant embrace during a news conference regarding the newly recovered Norman Rockwell painting, that belonged to their grandfather Robert Grant and was stolen more than 40 years ago, at the federal building in Philadelphia, Friday, March 31, 2017.
Matt Rourke | AP

After being lost for 40 years, a famous Norman Rockwell painting has been returned to its original owners in Philadelphia, according to a Friday press release.

The pairing titled 'Boy Asleep with Hoe' – also known as 'Lazy Bones' or 'Taking a Break' — was reportedly stolen from the Grant family's New Jersey home in 1976. The family then submitted a claim to Chubb, the world's largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company.

"The theft of 'Boy Asleep with Hoe' remained one of the art world's greatest mysteries for over four decades," Fran O'Brien, senior vice president of Switzerland-based Chubb, said in a statement.

The Rockwell painting was purchased for less than $100 in the 1950s and was later stolen in the 1970s. The picture shows a young boy taking a nap outside with his dog.

The value of the recovered painting is now estimated to be between $600,000 to $1 million — significantly more than its value at the time of the theft, the release said.

"Recovered art is often valued at a greater amount than a similar piece, given its unique provenance," O'Brien said. Upon its recovery, 'Boy Asleep with Hoe' now has a "newfound high-profile status," she added.

The insurance claims payments received after finding the painting will be donated by Chubb to the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, where iconic painter Rockwell lived for more than 25 years.

Some of Rockwell's best-known works include 'Rosie the Riveter' and his 'Four Freedoms' series, which was inspired by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.

Shares of insurance provider Chubb are up more than 14 percent over the past 12 months and are up around 3 percent year-to-date.