UPDATE: More Arrests in the Kunsthal Museum Theft and New Speculation that Paintings were Burned

The Eventimentul Zilei reported on March 4th that Matisse’s
“Reading Girl in White and Yellow,” (1919) was burned.
The claims are unsubstantiated.

In January three Romanian men were arrested in connection with the Kunsthal Museum art theft.  This month two more individuals are in custody and under investigation.

On March 4th, a 19-year old Romanian woman was arrested in Rotterdam.  This still unnamed woman is the girlfriend of one of the accused men arrested in January.  Authorities suspect that she assisted the thieves by hiding the paintings in her Rotterdam apartment.  It is believed she helped the thieves remove the frames from the paintings, allowing for easier transport.

A Bucharest-based newspaper, the Eventimentul Zilei (EVZ), published a news story on March 4th that the 19-year old may have burned two of the paintings.  They reported that the works were Matisse’s “Reading Girl in White and Yellow” (1919) and Gauguin’s “Girl in Front of Open Window” (1898).  The facts are unsubstantiated and believed to be only sensationalized reporting by the EVZ.

On March 14th, a German man was arrested when he attempted to sell the paintings to the Triton Foundation, a collection of avant-garde art.  Two lawyers in Cologne, contacted by the Triton Foundation in late 2012, notified the police that a possible transaction was in process.

The worldwide search for the seven
masterpieces stolen from the
Kunsthal Museum continues.

Cologne’s head prosecutor, Ulrich Bremer, notified the Associated Press that the German suspect might be a scam artist who had no involvement with the Kunsthal Museum theft. Bremer stated: “He [the suspect] said he had access to the paintings but whether he was really part of the theft ring or had contact to them and to the paintings, or whether he was some sort of a free-rider, is part of our investigation.”

All five suspects remain in custody while Romanian, German, and Dutch authorities continue their investigations.

None of the seven priceless masterpieces stolen from the Kunsthal Museum October 16th, 2012 have been recovered.

For our past coverage on the Kunsthal theft visit: “Three Suspects Arrested in Relation to the Kunsthal Museum Theft, Yet the Paintings Remain MIA” published on January 26th and “Art Theft in the Netherlands Raises Concerns about Museum Security” published on October 18th, 2012.

Sources: “Suspect Trying to Sell Stolen Picasso, Monets Back to Dutch Owner Arrested,” The Globe and Mail, March 14, 2013; “Art Heist: Dutch Police Arrest Romanian In Rotterdam Kunsthal Gallery Painting Caper,” The Huffington Post, March 3, 2013; “Two Kunstal Theft Paintings Were Probably Burned, EVZ Says,” Bloomberg Businessweek, March 4, 2013.

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