More details are emerging from Bucharest prosecutors about the Romanian suspects in the Dutch art heist. It appears that the men arrested in the case were not exactly the sophisticated and cultured type . Judicial sources quoted by local news agency Mediafax said that the suspected thieves did not know how to spell the names of the painters whose paintings they allegedly stole from the Rotterdan museum last year, nor the titles of the paintings themselves. They apparently had no idea how much the paintings were worth. One of them told the prosecutors they chose to steal the Picasso because they had heard about it and knew it was valuable, but prosecutors argue that Gaugain and Matisse were much more valuable, but the men did not know that.
The Dutch authorities have requested the extradition of the three suspects to The Netherlands to face charges, according to Romanian judiciary sources. The insurance value of the paintings, insured by the Triton Foundation, was EUR 18 million, according to Romanian prosecutors, but their market value is at least ten times higher.
The paintings have had a lucky escape, as the thieves considered burning them at one point after running into difficulties when trying to sell the seven art works. The emerging picture is of disorganization and incompetence; the thieves had no idea what they were stealing, what the paintings were worth or to whom they could sell them.
Those involved in the case were shocked to find that the three suspects – Mihai Alexandru Bitu, Eugen Darie and Radu Dogaru – had been carrying the millions of euros worth of art around in plastic bags. When attempting to sell the paintings, the thieves were reportedly had no idea how much to ask.
The men were arrested on January 21 in Romania after an ex-girlfriend of one of the suspects tipped off the police. They are still in custody after an application for bail was turned down.
The timing of the incident could be rather unfortunate with friction between Romania and The Netherlands over Schengen Area accession. Although the notion that Schengen Area membership will result in streams of Romanian thieves robbing Dutch museum is risible, it seems likely that case will not improve Romania’s image in The Netherlands.
Romanian police arrested the three Romanian men suspected of the audacious art theft from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum. Seven paintings by some of the world’s best known artists were stolen from the museum in October last year.
The seven stolen art works were Picasso’s Tete d’Arlequin, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London (in picture), and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed, Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Gauguin’s Femme Devant une Fenetre Ouverte, dite la Fiancee, and Meyer de Haan’s Autoportrait. Estimates for the value of the paintings run at around the EUR 200 million mark.
German news service Deutsche Welle described the robbery on October 16 last year as a “lightning speed, audacious theft,” in which the thieves broke into the museum, stole the paintings and made their escape within 90 seconds. At the time, the heist baffled Dutch Police, who couldn’t understand how the thieves had got round the museum’s alarm systems.
Romania’s organized crime and terrorism unit DIICOT made the arrests. A Bucharest court issued a warrant on January 21 and the arrests were the result of a Romanian police operation, rather than an investigation by the Dutch authorities, according to reports.
Liam Lever, email@example.com
photo source: http://www.artofmonet.com