The Guggenheim Museum may not reclaim a $200,000 Marc Chagall painting it says was stolen 24 years ago and discovered in a Fifth Avenue home, a Manhattan judge ruled.

State Supreme Court Justice Shirley Fingerhood said Thursday that amuseum officials never reported the theft of the 1912 gouache, "Menageries," because they admittedly were embarrassed by its loss and feared adverse publicity."The property owner has an obligation to use reasonable efforts to locate its property," the judge said in a six-page decision. "Plaintiff did nothing for 20 years except search its premises."

Museum officials said they suspected a former mailroom employee had taken the gouache, a type of watercolor, along with four other paintings but had no proof.