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Suspects nabbed, Freud painting recovered

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Two cargo handlers were charged Thursday with stealing a painting by renowned realist painter Lucian Freud, valued at $1.5 million, from a cargo building at JFK International Airport, police said.

Rajmohan Autar, 29, and Kirt Garvey, 19, both employed by Worldwide Cargo Services, face charges of grand larceny and criminal possession of stolen property. They were being held Thursday. If convicted, they face up to 25 years in prison.

The painting was recovered Wednesday night in the backyard of an abandoned home in Jamaica, Queens, a spokesman for the Queens district attorney told CNN.

Port Authority police say the heist was caught on tape by surveillance cameras. The pair allegedly broke into a carton at the United Airlines cargo building on Tuesday and removed the artwork by the famed German-born British artist and grandson of psychology pioneer Sigmund Freud.

Police identified the two men after viewing airport security video with officials from United Airlines.

The painting, entitled "Painter's Garden," depicts a scene in the artist's backyard garden, said Bill Acquavella, owner of the Acquavella Gallery in Manhattan. It is one of 25 pieces to be featured in a special exhibition of Freud's work in May.

Freud had shipped the painting from London to the gallery, Acquavella said.

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