Mexican police detain antique dealer with stolen painting

Police in the western city of Guadalajara arrested an antiques dealer for alleged possession and attempted sale of an 18th-century religious painting stolen two years ago from a museum in neighboring Guatemala.

Suspect Francisco Gutierrez Castaneda from the upscale Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan was detained Wednesday after police recovered the painting "The Dream of Pope Gregory IX," by Mexican Baroque painter Cristobal de Villalpando.

The painting was reported stolen in May 2004 from the Colonial Art Museum in the tourist city of Antigua, Guatemala.

Police were acting on a tip from an art dealer in the nearby city of Chapala, who said Gutierrez Castaneda had offered to sell him the painting for US$30,000 ( Ђ 24,975). The second dealer checked the painting on the Internet, discovered it was stolen and called authorities.

Gutierrez Castaneda, 56, has said he acquired the painting for the equivalent of about US$4,500 ( Ђ 3,745) in 2004, and was unaware that it was stolen. He was remanded to a judge in Guadalajara, who will determine whether sufficient evidence exists to hold him over for trial.

Born around 1645, Villalpando died in 1714, and was known as the master of the Baroque style in Spain's American colonies, reports the AP.

I.L.