NL Times

Crime

Stolen Art Burnt

The paintings that were stolen last year from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, are all burned. That said the research team of Justice in Romania on Tuesday.

It involves seven paintings with an estimated value of 18 million euro of, among others, Monet, Matisse, Picasso and Gauguin. The artworks are burned in the house of the mother of the prime suspect Radu Dogaru, in the Romanian village of Carcaliu, announced the Romanian television channel PRO TV. Experts from the National Art Museum in Romania have examined ash residues, on behalf of Justice, and showed that these were the remains of the works of art.

Two minutes

The artworks were stolen from the Kunsthal, on the night of 15 on 16 October last year. It took the thieves only two minutes. The theft soon got the name ‘art heist of the century’.

Six Romanians are suspected of the robbery, and yesterday it was announced that they will be sued in their homeland. Two of them actually stole the paintings, the other four are considered accomplices. One of the accomplices is a fugitive. When the process against the six takes place, it is not yet clear.

Mafia

The mother of Radu Dogaru, a suspect, hid the stolen paintings in her house in the village of Carcaliu in eastern Romania, after the three main suspects could not get rid of the paintings. The suspects wanted to sell the paintings to the Russian mafia, according to Justice. The three suspects also approached a Romanian fashion king. They walked through the Romanian capital Bucharest with the paintings rolled up in a shopping bag, trying to sell them.

When they finally understood that the works were so famous that they could never be made to cash,  the paintings were brought to the mother of Dogaru. There they were first hidden, then buried in the local cemetery and finally burned in a stove together with garbage and rubber boots. “It became clear to me that they had done something terrible and we were afraid to be punished, as the mother stated in her confession.

Prosecution

The Public Prosecution (OM) in Rotterdam has not heard yet from their Romanian colleagues that the paintings are all burned. A spokeswoman for the OM said on Tuesday that via the official judicial channels no information has been received, only that there is research going on, which is not yet completed. “We are depending on what we get from there. If this is true, this will be the last glimmer of hope, that the pieces of art will come back. It would be a loss that will touch every art lover. If it is true, this underlines the futility of the act.”