Stolen Picasso found in Romania may be fake

Letter said recovered painting was a prank made by two artists and a forger

Pablo Picasso’s T’te d’Arlequin, which was among a trove of artworks stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, was believed to have turned up. File photograph: Courtesy ABC

Pablo Picasso’s T’te d’Arlequin, which was among a trove of artworks stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum, was believed to have turned up. File photograph: Courtesy ABC

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A stolen painting believed to be T’te d’Arlequin by Pablo Picasso that turned up in Romania may be fake, according to reports.

In one of the art world’s most dramatic heists, thieves made off with seven paintings, worth millions of euros, by Picasso, Monet and others, from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal museum in 2012.

A writer from Romania, who found the painting in the woods, has stated that she received a letter explaining that the artwork she passed to the authorities was a prank made by two Belgian artists amid a project called “True Copy” assigned to the notorious Dutch forger Geert Jan Jansen.

While the Romanian ringleader and his accomplices were convicted of the theft in 2013, none of the artworks had been recovered and Romanian experts believed at least three of them had been burned in an attempt to destroy evidence.

“Anti-organised crime prosecutors are investigating the circumstances under which a painting signed by Picasso worth about €800,000 was found on Saturday evening in Tulcea county,” they said, adding that the painting was being authenticated.

They said two Dutch citizens arrived at the Netherlands embassy in Bucharest with the painting, saying they had found it in the southeastern Romanian county.

Security camera footage released at the time of the theft showed a gang entering through a back door of the museum and disappearing from view. Seconds later they reappeared carrying bulky objects.

The other stolen works were Matisse’s La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London, Gauguin’s Femme devant une fen’tre ouverte, Meijer De Haan’s Autoportrait and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed. – Additional reporting by Reuters

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