FBI returns Rockwell painting stolen in New Jersey in 1976

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Four decades after it was stolen in Cherry Hill, the FBI has recovered a multi-million-dollar piece of art. Gray Hall reports during Action News at Noon on March 31. (WPVI)

Four decades after it was stolen in Cherry Hill, the FBI has recovered a million dollar piece of art.

On Friday, it was returned to its owner. Though the thief remains on the loose, authorities say that person likely wouldn't be charged due to a statute of limitations.

The Norman Rockwell painting was stolen back in 1976 from a home in Cherry Hill.

On Friday morning, the FBI was able to return it to the family who has been wondering all these years where it was.

"We were blown away when they said they recovered it. Just to see it is spectacular, we are very happy," said Susan Murta.

Her father, Robert Grant, originally owned the painting and has since passed away. She says he always knew the family would see the painting again.

"He was crushed when it was stolen because he loved it. He would be thrilled right now and beyond elated to get it back, because it meant a lot to him and he really enjoyed it and loved it and was proud of it," Murta said.

The person who had the painting came forward following a media blitz by the FBI, designed to generate new leads in the case.

That person was unaware the painting had been stolen, the FBI says.

Agents wouldn't say where, but confirm the painting was recovered in the Philadelphia area, and say the person who returned it wants to remain anonymous.

"The person who turned over the painting is not involved with the theft and as a result will face no charges, and has been a tremendous asset to this investigation and has been fully cooperative and we are very thankful for that citizen's help," said Special Agent Jake Archer.

The Grant family purchased the Rockwell painting back in the 1950's for less than a hundred dollars after it was damaged during a pool game at the original owner's home. A painting that could tell so many stories became a story, and now the family has a good ending to tell for years to come.

"My father always said they would find it, and they would show up one day, and I sort of believed the same thing," Murta said. "So pleasantly surprised and happy, but I certainly knew it would happen."

The family was given a $15,000 payment from the insurance company to compensate them for the loss back in 1976.

Today, the painting is estimated to be worth $1 million. The family says they will store the painting as they decide what to do with it next.

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