Six years after the art heist of the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, one painting has possibly reappeared in Romania under strange circumstances. The painting, Picasso’s Tête d’Arlequin, was one of seven works by masters including Matisse, Monet, and Gauguin valued at over $23 million. Until the reappearance of this Picasso all works were believed to have been destroyed.
The painting were stolen from the Dutch Museum, which boasted a state of the art security system but no night guards on duty, on October 16th, 2012. The Romania gang responsible for the heist worked fast and by the time authorities arrived they had made off with the seven paintings. The small-time criminals faced the same problems early art thieves have faced. Thieves have limited options when it comes to attempting to sell stolen works. All the works were described, photographed, and registered internationally. For this reason, stolen art is often destroyed or lost forever.
That was believed to be the case for these paintings. As police closed in on the gang, the leaders mother reportedly dug up the painting that had been buried in the village graveyard and burnt them on her hearth. Analysis of the ashes from her hearth reveal materials such as canvas, wood, staples, and paints that indicate the remains of at least three or four canvases. All were believed to be lost.
The possible reappearance of the Picasso this weekend have been strange. Dutch authorities report that two Dutch citizens arrived at the Netherlands Embassy in Bucharest with the painting. The two tourists reportedly found the painting under a tree in Southeastern Romania after receiving a tip. However strange the circumstances, if true, we have recovered an important piece of humanity.