Routine check of the history of ancient sculpture in MFA collection reveals surprising news: It was stolen

In the summer of 1901, a Mr. Richard was apprehended for stealing art in France. Authorities found in his possession a number of pieces taken a month earlier, on July 3, from (what is now known as) the Musée de la Chartreuse in Douai.

But they didn’t find the museum’s small ancient Roman bronze of a nude, young man dubbed “Antinoüs,” despite Mr. Richard including the 6-inch figure on “a list of the objects he had removed,” according to the institution.

And so it stood, until last spring when Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts received “a routine request” from a Belgian museum to borrow its Roman statuette of “Mercury” (pictured above) dating to the first or second century A.D.

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