The discovery that two paintings held by a New York couple had been stolen from a Bolivian church in 2002 has ignited a search for 10 other colonial-era paintings that were taken in the theft, one the largest such crimes in the country’s history. The paintings, “Escape to Egypt” and “Virgin of Candelaria,” were found in the collection of Richard and Roberta Huber, who contacted
Bolivian officials after learning the two large works had been reported stolen. The paintings, each about 6 feet (2 meters) high and more than 300 years old, were among 12 ecclesiastical artworks stolen in June 2002 from the San Martin church in the southern city of Potosi. Wilma Blazz, a city prosecutor in Potosi, said Thursday authorities would reopen their search for the items and would seek help from Brazil. The Hubers had purchased the paintings legally in 2003 from an art gallery in Sao Paulo and restored them. Their origin came to light in 2012 as the Philadelphia Museum of Art prepared to mount an exhibit of the couple’s collection and checked lists of artwork reported stolen.