The estimated $4 million painting by the late pop art prince, called "Electric Cord," was last seen in 1970, when owner Leo Castelli sent it out to be professionally cleaned.
It never made it back to Castelli's apartment, and was reported lost or stolen.
It's whereabouts remained a mystery until last week, when the Roy Lichtenstein Foundation called Barbara Castelli, Leo's widow, to say it had turned up at a high-end art storage warehouse on E. 61st Street, and that someone was trying to sell it.
A rep from the foundation had gone to look at the painting after they were asked to authenticate it by a Manhattan gallery boss who the "owner" had approached for a possible sale, the court papers say. The work had apparently been on display at a museum in Bogota.
The foundation had been trying to help Castelli locate the painting for years, and immediately tipped her off, the filings say.
Justice O. Peter Sherwood signed an order Tuesday afternoon barring the warehouse from moving the painting until after a hearing on Monday morning with representatives from Hayes and the current "owner," who's listed on the court papers as "John Doe."