Stolen Rembrandt drawing valued at $250,000 recovered.

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.

What was remarkable was the signature on the artwork — Rembrandt.

Authorities said early on Tuesday they had recovered the Dutch master's 17th century sketch at a San Fernando Valley church, about 32 km from the luxury hotel lobby where it was snatched over the weekend from a private art display while a curator was momentarily distracted by someone who seemed interested in buying another piece.

It was not clear whether the person talking to the curator was connected to the theft, though police said a team of at least two people was involved.

Detectives got a tip from an anonymous caller on Monday evening that the sketch was in the suburban Encino church, he said.

The Rembrandt drawing, swiped on 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.

Police described the theft as well-executed, “but not executed well enough to get away with”.

The sketch, called “The Judgment”, was completed around 1655 and is signed on the back by Rembrandt von Rijn. He is widely regarded as one of the finest painters in European art history and his worldwide name recognition has made his work a common target for thieves. The stolen sketch was drawn with a quill pen and depicts what appears to be a court scene with a man prostrating himself before a judge. — AP