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Busted: Housekeeper nabbed with $3 million sculpture of Ben Franklin

Lower Merion Police

This bust of Ben Franklin was stolen on Aug. 24 from the home of an art collector in Bryn Mawr, Penn.

Police in Maryland have arrested a housekeeper accused of stealing a rare porcelain bust of Ben Franklin worth $3 million, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Monday. The authorities caught up with Andrea Lawton on Friday as she was getting off a bus in Elkton, Md., carrying the artwork in a gunny sack, according to the report.

Lawton had been working for the owner George A. D’Angelo as a cleaner in his Bryn Mawr, Penn., home just three days before the rare 18th century bust disappeared on Aug. 24.

The piece was cracked across the breastplate during its absence, the Inquirer said.

 It had not yet been returned to D'Angelo while the FBI kept it for fingerprinting.

"We'll just hope that Ben can be restored," D’Angelo told the paper. "He'll go back on the pedestal and grace the room again."

Lower Merion Police

Andrea Lawton

While working at the D’Angelo home, Lawton had been told not to touch the bust and that it was "extremely valuable," according to an affidavit of probable cause that supported the arrest warrant.

The piece was one of four made by sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon while Franklin was living in Paris as Minister to France, in the late 1770s, according to Blouin Artinfo.

Still missing from the collection of D'Angelois an autographed picture of the composer Victor Herbert, mounted in a shadowbox with one of his batons and sheet music. That piece is valued at $80,000, the art publication said.

Lawton, also known as Andrea Gresham, was charged with theft, fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, according to papers filed in federal court in Philadelphia.

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