LOS ANGELES — It wasn't some bold theft carried out by burglars breaking into a heavily-fortified museum with high-tech alarms to swipe a masterpiece. It was a low-tech caper involving a distraction, an accomplice or two and a small sketch — an 11- by 6-inch drawing.
What was remarkable was the signature on the artwork: Rembrandt.
Authorities said Tuesday they had recovered the Dutch master's 17th century sketch, which was snatched over the weekend from a private art display at a luxury California hotel while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece.
"When the curator turned back to the Rembrandt, it was gone," Los Angeles County sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said. It was not clear whether the person talking to the curator was connected to the theft, though Whitmore said a team of at least two people was involved.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department did not release further details on the recovery of the drawing, and Associated Press calls for comment were not immediately returned.
The Rembrandt drawing, swiped Saturday night, was valued at $250,000 and was being exhibited as part of a private display in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in the upmarket seaside community of Marina del Rey.
The sketch was being displayed on an easel or wooden stand and was apparently not fastened down in any way, Whitmore said.
He described the theft as well-executed, "but not executed well enough to get away with," adding that investigators had several strong leads and that detectives were looking at video surveillance from the hotel.