Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heist and hoist

Pablo Picasso's "Tête d’Arlequin" (1971) was among 7 paintings stolen from Rotterdam, Holland's Kunsthal on October 16, 2012. The thieves, led by Romanian Radu Doragu, broke through a rear emergency exit, setting off the state-of-the-art alarm to which police responded within 5 minutes. But by then, the thieves and the masterpieces had vanished. While the value of the paintings - which included including works by Matisse, Monet, and Gauguin (SLIDESHOW HERE) - may have been overstated in the media, the cultural loss is of more importance. And now it is believed that the art will never be recovered. Forensic specialists from Romania's National History Museum have identified fragments of paint containing lead, zinc, and azurite; primer; canvas; and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-date the 20th c. The evidence was found by police in the ashes of the kitchen stove in the rural home of the mother of one of the accomplices. Mrs. Doragu confesses, "After the arrest of my son in January, 2013, I was very scared because I knew that what had happened was very serious. I placed the suitcase containing the paintings in the stove. I put in some logs, slippers and rubber shoes and waited until they had completely burned."

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