Stolen portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso found after 20 years


Written by Matthew Robinson, CNN

A Dutch art inspector has found a picture of Picasso worth 28 million dollars, 20 years after his flight on the yacht of a Saudi sheikh off the south coast of France .

The 1938 masterpiece, entitled "Portrait of Dora Maar" or "Woman's Bust (Dora Maar)", disappeared from the Saudi billionaire Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh's yacht during its renovation in the city of Dora Maar. Antes in 1999.

The painting had already been hung in Picasso until his death in 1973 and represents the muse of the artist.

The case baffled the French police and it was feared that the work was lost forever, until rumors circulated about the appearance of painting on the Dutch black market.

Arthur Brand, a renowned Dutch art detective nicknamed "Indiana Jones of the Art World", stated that he had learned for the first time that a stolen painting Picasso had emerged in the Netherlands in 2015, without knowing what work he was doing.

Arthur Brand found in North London two Visigothic limestone reliefs dating back to the seventh century, which had been stolen from the Maria del Lara Church in Spain.

Arthur Brand found in North London two Visigothic limestone reliefs dating back to the seventh century, which had been stolen from the Maria del Lara Church in Spain. Credit: NIKLAS HALLE # N / AFP / Getty Images

A four-year investigation followed, which resulted in the arrival of two middlemen in Brand's apartment 10 days ago, missing the chart by hand.

"They had with them the Picasso, estimated at 25 million euros, wrapped in a sheet and black trash bags," Brand told Agence France Presse. "I hung the Picasso on the wall for one night, thus making my apartment one of the most expensive in Amsterdam for a day," he joked.

Brand discovered that the painting had been circulating in the criminal world for many years, was regularly used as a "guarantee" and appeared "in a drug deal here, four years later, as part of an arms deal. . "

He received his best run earlier this month, when "two representatives of a Dutch businessman" contacted him, claiming that their client had the paint. "He was exhausted," said Brand. "He thought that Picasso was part of a legitimate agreement.It turns out that the agreement was legitimate – the payment method was not."

The art detective sued and told the middlemen that they needed to act quickly to protect the painting in case it disappeared again into the criminal world.

The middlemen then delivered the painting in Brand's apartment and the Picasso experts from the Pace Gallery in New York went to Amsterdam to check it. The painting has since been handed over to an insurance company, who is determining what to do with it.

Christopher Marinello, CEO of Art Recovery International – a law firm specializing in the recovery of stolen works – told CNN that it is "extremely important and very encouraging" that insurance companies are looking for stolen works well. after the closing of the file. "It is good to see a job of this importance surfaced and not to be the subject of intense litigation."

He pointed out that it is "urgent" for anyone being robbed of an object to report harm to an international database such as The Art Loss Register. This allows merchants and auction houses to know if they are dealing with stolen works.

"It's important to show that the stolen art market is shrinking and that crime, in most cases, is not paying off," Marinello said. He added that the burglary of valuable art works has "become an industry" for some gangs, who "steal works of art, then buy insurance companies".

"Criminals are trying to get their money out quickly, and when that becomes impossible, works of art will be traded at a fraction of its real value (less than 10%) for drugs, guns, etc. Some Thieves can acquire stolen works as a kind of "get out of jail free" card, to use as an exchange currency in case of arrest.This has already worked with prosecutors and still works today. hui. "

Nevertheless, the recovery of Dora Maar's painting raises some questions, for example as to whether anyone had been paid.

An industry source, who requested anonymity, told CNN that the use of payments to informants and informants was a major challenge in recovering valuable works of art, as this " encourages the continuation of the flights ".

"They only talk about intermediaries – did the owner simply hand over the table or were payments made?"

The source said that in 1999, the insurers of the Lloyd's Insurance Group had offered a £ 350,000 ($ 462,522) reward for the return of the intact painting. The current reward offered for the work of art remains unknown.

Brand has recently recovered other works of art of invaluable value, including a 1600 year old mosaic stolen from a church in Cyprus. In 2015, he also recovered "Hitler's Horses", two bronze statues made by Josef Thorak, one of the two official sculptors of the Third Reich.

CNN contacted Brand with a request for comment, but has not yet received a response.

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