An assistant priest at St. Nicholas of Myra Episcopal Church in Encino strolled into his boss’ office Monday night and noticed a new framed drawing placed just inside the door.

For a moment, it appeared to be a donation from a parishioner or a new piece of art for the office.

But when he went to admire the drawing more closely, he realized he’d seen it before. This, he was sure, was “The Judgment,” the 1655 pen and ink work by Rembrandt that had been all over the news since it was stolen two days earlier from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Marina del Rey.

Within hours, officials had confirmed that the drawing was indeed the missing Rembrandt, which had been the subject of a high-profile hunt. Detectives expressed relief that the artwork had been recovered but were surprised that a theft that initially appeared so well-orchestrated ended with someone sneaking into a suburban church and leaving the drawing, which is valued at more than $250,000.

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