Stolen Valuable Antique Suddenly Found After 40 Years

A valuable antique has returned to Vermont more than four decades after being stolen from a local train station.

The antique, a 1910 copper weathervane made by W.A. Snow Iron Works Inc., was recently pulled from a planned sale at Sotheby’s auction house in New York after the Arts Loss Register organization confirmed that it had been stolen, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Associated Press.

The weathervane was reportedly taken on November 3, 1983, from the top of the White River Junction Station, which is on Vermont’s eastern border with New Hampshire. It features a steam locomotive carrying a coal tender, or rail car filled with coal.

A listing for the long-lost antique remained online at Sotheby’s website at the time of publication. It describes the object as a “molded and gilded copper locomotive weathervane” that is “property from the estate of Martin Shack,” with a width of 65 inches, a height of 14.25 inches and a depth of 9 inches.

A steam locomotive weathervane is pictured outside a window in this undated stock image. A different but similarly themed antique weathervane was returned to Vermont last week more than 40 years after being stolen from…


The weathervane was received last week by the state of Vermont, which owns the train station, after Arts Loss Register teamed with Vermont’s Agency of Transportation (AOT) to ensure its safe return, according to an agency press release. Sotheby’s paid $2,300 in shipping costs.

“We are delighted to see this valuable historic artifact and beautiful piece of art returned to its home here in Vermont,” AOT’s historic preservation officer Judith Ehrlich said in a statement. “We are working with the Vermont State Curator to select a great location for the weathervane so that it may be enjoyed once more.”

The total value of the weathervane was unclear, as was how exactly the object came to be listed with Sotheby’s.

Newsweek reached out for comment to Ehrlich and Sotheby’s via email on Wednesday night.

According to the AOT release, weathervanes—used to detect wind direction—are considered “very common” targets for theft because they are typically unguarded and “sit on a spindle” outdoors.

Stolen art and antiques are somewhat frequently discovered in the collections of auction houses, art dealers and museums. While the recovery of the weathervane apparently occurred with Sotheby’s help, those in possession of similar stolen items are not always accommodating.

Christopher Marinello, a U.K.-based specialist in recovering stolen art and antiques, told The Observer last year that “most” sellers are “uncooperative at first” because they are “so desperate to protect their commissions that they will do anything to avoid cooperating.”

“Somebody’s got to do something about these auction houses and dealers that think they’re above the law,” Marinello said. “They write to me saying, ‘Sorry, we have to wait to hear from law enforcement’… the last thing they [law enforcement] care about is stolen objects and where they are.”