Story of famous Picasso painting, stolen five years ago from a museum in the Netherlands, found in Romania, proves to be a prank

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A famous Picasso painting, stolen by Romanian thieves from the Netherlands five years ago, was found in Romania. The painting was stolen from a museum in the Netherlands.

It seems that some Belgian theatre producers have buried a copy of the “Tete d’Arlequin” painting near Tulcea at the end of October, then they sent anonymous letters announcing the place where there is a famous painting stolen from the museum of Rotterdam seven years ago.

The letters have got to three addresses in the Netherlands and three in Romania, but only a Dutch writer of Romanian origin, Mira Feticu and one of her friends have fallen for that.

A Dutch writer of Romanian origin, Mira Feticu, says she found one of the stolen paintings in 2012 from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam after receiving ten days ago a letter containing information about where the work is hidden, according to the Dutch press.

The ones who played the prank have announced their victims by e-mail later on, explaining the prank had been inspired by the “True Copy” theatre play that had its premiere in Anvers on Thursday.

The leading character of the theatre play is a painting faker.

Four Romanians were convicted of stealing Picasso’s “Tete d’Arlequin” and six other valuable paintings from the Kunsthal gallery in Rotterdam. One of them, Olga Dogaru, told investigators she burned the paintings in her stove to protect her son, the alleged leader of the 2012 heist. She later retracted the statement.

The work, purported to be the stolen Picasso, was given to the Dutch embassy in Romania on Saturday.

Mira Feticu said she found the canvas, and handed it over to the Dutch Embassy in Bucharest, and she was also heard at the police on Saturday evening, digi24.ro reports.

Feticu, who is the author of a novel entitled ‘Tascha’ inspired by the heist of the seven paintings from the Kunsthal museum committed by several Romanians in 2012, the novel being published in 2015, told www.nrc.nl that ten days ago she received an anonymous letter in Romanian which offered directions to find the painting.

“The letter was in Romanian and included an address where the canvas allegedly was hidden, as well as indications for finding it. The letter said it was “Tete d’Arlequin” As soon as I read it, I called the detective in Rotterdam with whom I worked for my book. After a few days, I boarded the plane,” she said.

She also said that, upon arriving at the indicated address, she sought, and found under a stone a packet wrapped in plastic containing the painting.

When she returned to the car, she unfolded it and compared it with a copy of the work.

“When I saw it, I started to cry, I’m not a specialist, but it seems to be Picasso’s work. I think it belongs to the Netherlands, so I handed it over to the Embassy in Bucharest immediately,” Mira Feticu said.

The seven paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam in October 2012 were brought to Romania in pillows through the Nadlac customs and were hidden for a period of time in the trunk of a car. The mother of one of the thieves, said it burned in her home in Carcaliu, Tulcea County.

On October 15, 2012, two men with their faces covered conducted one of the biggest heists in history, at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam. That night, seven paintings signed by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Lucian Freud have vanished.

Dutch police officers came in alert, but they had few clues. After a few weeks there was no suspect. Then the Romanian policemen dealing with organized crime intervened. They found out that behind the heist in the Netherlands there would be Romanians. They found them quickly, and the District 5 Court issued arrest warrants.

After hours of hearings, tests with the polygraph, none of the suspects admitted the crime. The evidence was getting clearer. The paintings were hidden in Romania, in a village in Tulcea County. After the searches, clues began to surface, but the paintings could not be found. Reportedly, the suspects would have fired them.

The investigators conducted searches and found new evidence, with pictures of the thieves at the Kunshal Museum. They denied any involvement, but the phone recordings say different.

The prosecutors with the Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT) indicted the suspects on July 15, 2013: Radu Dogaru, Eugen Darie, Alexandru Bitu, Olga Dogaru, Petre Condrat and Adrian Procop in absentia.

The estimated value of the damage is EUR 18 million.

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