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Paint Ashes in Oven May Solve Case

Friday, July 19, 2013

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Missing artwork worth tens of millions of dollars may have been burned in an oven in Romania, according to numerous reports.

Forensic paint analysis could help crack the case.

Claude Monet
Public Domain

Claude Monet's 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London, and other famous pieces may have been burned in an oven in Romania. The paintings have been missing since October 2012.

Ashes found in the stove of a woman—whose son allegedly stole a Picasso, two Monets, a Matisse and other paintings—contains paint, canvas and nails, Romanian museum officials have told members of the press.

The paintings were stolen last October from a Dutch museum in a “spectacular daytime heist,” reports say.

Paint Analysis in Progress

Authorities say it could take months for the results of a forensic paint analysis to reveal whether the charred remnants are actually the stolen paintings.

However, Romania’s National History Museum director told reporters from the Associated Press that specialists had found “a series of substances which are specific to paintings and pictures,” including lead, zinc and azurite in the stove.

Alleged Story of the Burning

Olga Dogaru has told investigators that she was frightened after her son—Radu Dogaru—was arrested in January, according to the Associated Press in Bucharest.

She said she buried the pieces of art in an abandoned house, then took them to a cemetery, and later dug them up and burned them in her oven when police started searching her village for the paintings, the report said.

Prosecutors say they don’t exactly believe Olga's story, according to the news bureau.

But, some art critics believe her.

"Olga Dogaru describes how she made the fire, put wood on it and burned the paintings, like she was burning a pair of slippers," Pavel Susara, a Romanian art critic, told the Associated Press.

"She's either a repressed writer or she is describing exactly what she did." 

The Heist

Thieves reportedly broke into the Kunsthall Gallery in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, on Oct. 16, 2012 and took the following paintings in two minutes.

  • Picasso's 1971 Harlequin Head;
  • Monet's 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London;
  • Matisse's 1919 Reading Girl in White and Yellow;
  • Paul Gauguin's 1898 Girl in Front of Open Window;
  • Meyer de Haan's Self-Portrait, around 1890; and
  • Lucian Freud's 2002 work Woman With Eyes Closed.

Olga’s son and two others are in custody as investigators are looking for the missing paintings and other evidence, the reports say.


Tagged categories: Artists; Color + Design; Criminal acts; Design; Painters

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