April 1, 2008 / 3:25 AM / 11 years ago

Stolen Aboriginal art found in Australian bushland

Aboriginal painting titled "Old Man's Death" by Old Tutuma Tjapangati, one of seven paintings stolen from the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, is seen in this undated handout photograph obtained April 1, 2008. REUTERS/Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory/Handout

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Seven historic Aboriginal paintings were found in bushland in the northern Australian city of Darwin, several hours after they were stolen from a Northern Territory art gallery, police said on Tuesday.

The seven paintings included six works from the Papunya Tula, or Western Desert Art Movement of central Australia, which popularized the indigenous art movement in the 1970s with their dot paintings of traditional stories.

“The paintings ... were located in bushland near the Darwin Bowls and Social Club,” police said, adding one man had been taken into custody for questioning over the theft.

Papunya Tula paintings are among the most popular and valuable in Australia, with a 1977 work by the late Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri selling for A$2.4 million ($2.2 million) in 2007.

Gallery director Anna Malgorzewicz said the paintings were historically significant works.

“They are one of the first bodies of work from that area, so they (are) historically very significant,” she said.

Reporting by James Grubel

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