Painting found under tree in Romania believed to be Picasso stolen in ‘theft of the century’
In one of the most dramatic art heists ever accomplished robbers swiped seven paintings, worth millions of dollars, by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin and others from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum six years ago.
The Romanian mastermind of the break-in and three of his accomplices were convicted of theft in 2013 but none of the artworks were ever recovered. It was believed that at least three of the works had been burned in a bid to destroy evidence.
However, prosecutors announced a major breakthrough on Sunday saying that a novelist said she found the Picasso under a tree after receiving an anonymous tip. The piece was handed into the Dutch embassy in Romania on Saturday.
“Anti-organized crime prosecutors are investigating the circumstances under which a painting signed by Picasso worth roughly €800,000 ($913,440) was found on Saturday evening in Tulcea county,” they said in a statement, Reuters reports. Investigators are now working to authenticate the painting.
Dutch media dubbed the heist “the theft of the Century” after it took place in 2012. Dramatic security camera footage released at the time of the heist showed the robbers entering the museum through a back door. Moments later they emerged from the building carrying the valuable works.
The police previously said the works were destroyed after the thieves failed to find a buyer. One of those convicted, Olga Dogaru, told investigators she burned the paintings in her stove to protect her son, who was the alleged leader of the operation. She later retracted the statement.
The other works stolen were Matisse's “La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune”, Gauguin's “Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte”, Meijer De Haan's "Autoportrait", Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and “Charing Cross Bridge, London” and Lucian Freud’s “Woman with Eyes Closed”.
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