It was January 31, 1968.
"It happened after the museum had closed,” said Kathy Connor, curator of the George Eastman House.
An original Rembrandt entitled, “Portrait of a Young Man in an Armchair,” disappeared into the darkness.
It was a stunning heist.
"This picture is so well known, it's listed in all the books on Rembrandt that if anyone tries to sell it will have a very hard time doing so,” said Beaumont Newhall, director of the Eastman House at the time.
Rochester detectives searched for clues. They believe the thieves walked right in the front door of the George Eastman House.
"That was the part that I don't think anyone really does understand. The doors would have been locked, there was nothing broken or whatever so I think that still remains a mystery how did they get in,” said Connor.
The Rembrandt was hanging in the living room where a picture of Eastman’s mother now hangs. 1968 became the year Rochester’s Rembrandt went missing, but it wasn't for long.
"It was recovered about 10 months later in Plattsburgh, New York,” said Connor.
It was October 16th, 1968 when 3 men tried to book a private flight over the border.
"They were going to take the painting to Canada and I guess after that people believe if they had gotten to Canada and crossed the border we probably wouldn't have seen it again,” said Connor.
Their plane and that painting never took off. The men were arrested and the painting was returned to Rochester.
40 years later the original Rembrandt is still here in Rochester. The “Portrait of a Young Man in an Armchair” is on display at the Memorial Art Gallery.
"I think he's the ultimate master,” said artist Sarah Hart.
Hart teaches at the Memorial Art Gallery. She's studied Rembrandt for years, as well as the history of this piece. A piece she says George Eastman liked because it reminded him of one of the first photographs he was successful at reproducing.
"As soon as he saw it he knew that he wanted it and within a month he decided he wanted to make a move and buy it,” said Hart.
Hart is preparing to copy the painting herself. Over the next few months she will sit with her easel and paint, hoping to replicate Rochester’s very own Rembrandt.
"It's statically tiny the percentage of people who live in a city that have a real Rembrandt painting we are so lucky there is very few states that even have one,” said Hart.