joi, 9 august 2007

PARIS, France (AP) -- French investigators recovered two Picasso paintings and a drawing that were stolen from the home of the artist's granddaughter in an overnight heist in February, a police official said.

Pablo Picasso's "Maya with Doll", one of the two stolen paintings recovered by French police

Police took three people into custody. Two suspects were carrying the rolled-up canvases when police closed as they were expected to try to sell the masterpieces, the official said.

The two paintings -- one of Pablo Picasso's daughter Maya, the other of his second wife Jacqueline -- are worth nearly $66 million. Burglars had stolen them and the drawing from the luxurious Left Bank apartment of Diana Widmaier-Picasso, Maya Picasso's daughter.

Investigators were tipped off about a suspect by an art dealer, said a French police official who asked not to be identified by name, citing his office's policy.

Based on the tip, two different police bureaus -- one that specializes in armed thefts and another in the trafficking of cultural goods -- launched a constant surveillance of the main suspect. After more than a month, investigators were convinced the suspect was preparing to try to sell the works.

They took him and an accomplice into custody as they were transporting the rolled-up Picassos, the police official said. A third person was also taken into custody.

Police released no further details. Burglars slipped into Widmaier-Picasso's apartment on Feb. 26 or 27. At the time, police said they believed the thieves cut the edges of one painting, "Maya and the Doll," to take it out of its frame. It was not immediately clear if the recovered works had suffered any damage.

"Maya and the Doll," which shows Widmaier-Picasso's mother as a young girl in pigtails, is painted in a skewed Cubist perspective. Another version of the painting hangs in the Picasso Museum in Paris.

The other recovered painting, "Portrait of Jacqueline," depicts Picasso's second wife, Jacqueline Roque. France's art world was still reeling from another major theft just this weekend.

As a handful of visitors milled about the Museum of Fine Arts in Nice on the French Riviera on Sunday, five men dashed in and made off with four paintings worth about $1.4 million.

The stolen paintings were Monet's "Cliffs near Dieppe," fellow Impressionist Alfred Sisley's "Lane of Poplars near Moret," and Flemish master Jan Brueghel the Elder's "Allegory of Earth" and "Allegory of Water," said the museum's deputy curator Patricia Grimaud.

The FBI estimates the market for stolen art at $6 billion annually. The Art Loss Register, which maintains the world's largest database on the issue, has tallied up 170,000 pieces of stolen, missing and looted art and valuables

Niciun comentariu: