The painting, “Freja”, was stolen in a burglary of a family in the Stockholm area in 2004.
Six years later it has emerged at an auction organised by Sotheby’s in London. But when Swedish police caught wind of the sale, they put a stop to the auction, the Dagens Industri (DI) newspaper reports.
“I can confirm that the painting was withdrawn because of ambiguities regarding the ownership,” said Matthew Floris, spokesman for Sotheby’s, to DI.
According to the catalog, the painting was submitted to the auction by a private collector in Switzerland. Swedish police have said they will now question the man about the painting.
“In my estimation, one could suspect him of selling stolen goods, but the investigation hasn’t proceeded so far that he is formally a suspect,” said Lars Stervander of the Stockholm county police told the newspaper.
The painting technically belongs to the insurance company who paid compensation to the former owner in Sweden.
According to DI was the painting was insured for 3 million kronor ($428,000).
The Swedish artist Anders Zorn painted the work in 1901 and it depicts the naked goddess of love, Freja.