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A 19th century painting, "Portrait of a young woman in a white dress," appraised at $3,500, is back at the St. James Hotel this week after a man allegedly stole the painting off the hotel wall early Saturday morning.

St. James painting returned

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crime and courts Red Wing,Minnesota 55066 http://www.republican-eagle.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/26/0613/0522.n.re.painting.painting-web.jpg?itok=wW_RmWd-
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St. James painting returned
Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

She hasn't really left the St. James Hotel in at least 50 years. But early Saturday morning, the young woman in a white dress was forcefully carried out of the library, down the hotel's steps and into a vehicle.

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Luckily, her adventure was short-lived. On Tuesday afternoon, the oil-on-canvas work "Portrait of a Young Woman in a White Dress" was back at the hotel after police apprehended the man who allegedly took her.

Red Wing officers were first dispatched to the hotel, 406 Main St., just before 12:30 a.m. after an employee reported that someone had carried off the painting.

The 19th century work, which is unsigned and the artist unknown, hangs in the historical library just off the hotel's main lobby and front desk.

Police said a man entered the hotel, took the painting off its hook and walked out with it. The man was stopped by Lake City Police Department -- and the painting was recovered -- later that night.

On Tuesday, St. James General Manager Mike McKay said he is relieved that the painting is back at the hotel. Still, he said he's not entirely sure the work survived the ordeal unscathed.

"I don't know that it's not damaged," he said, adding that he's worried about a scuff mark on the front of the work. He said he will have an expert look at the painting in the coming days.

The painting's hanging wire was also broken, but that's a relatively easy fix, McKay said.

The painting, which was appraised at $3,500 about 10 years ago, is just one of several historical art works that the hotel owns, McKay said.

However, in the four years he's been at the St. James, McKay said he has never seen an art theft. He added that the hotel has security cameras throughout the building and the front desk is staffed 24 hours a day.

The painting should be back in the historical library "in a matter of days," McKay said.

"As soon as I confirm that everything is fine and get the back (wire) replaced," he said.

The man who allegedly took the painting did have a reason to be in the hotel, McKay said.

Police said charges are pending in the incident.

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Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.
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