Two Picasso paintings stolen in Switzerland were found in Serbia

Picasso - Enamel SaucepanThe paintings, “Tête de cheval” (Horse’s Head) dated 1962 and “Verre et Pichet” (Glass and Pitcher) dated 1944, were discovered during a joint action carried out by Swiss and Serb police.

“I can tell you with pride and joy that after three-and-a-half years of investigative work we have located both stolen Picasso paintings,” said Charles Faessler, a Swiss prosecutor involved in the case.

The paintings were stolen in February 2008 while they were on display in an art gallery at Pfaffikon, near Zurich. The artworks, which have a combined value of an estimated £2.6 million, were borrowed by Sprengel Museum galleries Pfaffikon in Hanover.

But who was behind the heist remains a mystery. No arrests were made. Several scenarios are now staged in order to find out what was the reason for the theft in the first place. It is said that the paintings were hard if not impossible to be sold on the open market precisely because they are so well known to the art world.
Therefore the thieves may have been working for a private collector or may have tried to cut a deal with the insurance company responsible for the paintings.

Some speculate that the thieves may have demanded a sum of money from the insurance company far less than the pictures’ insurance value, hoping the company would hand over some cash in order to save itself having to pay the full amount.

Also, disappearing borders and customs checks have made the smuggling of stolen art easier. At the same time the number of those willing to part for some illicit art increased because of the growing affluence around the world. Interpol’s database on stolen art lists some 34,000 pieces.

Picasso’s paintings are the first on the list of art theft

Picasso - La Lecture, 1932 (detail)Earlier this year a Picasso’s drawing had been stolen from the Weinstein Gallery in San Francisco. “Tete de Femme”, created in 1965, was estimated to be worth $275,000. Thief grabbed Picasso’s drawing off the wall and fled in a waiting taxicab.

Fortunately, the Union Square restaurant’s security camera captured the crook and so the police recovered the art work in the same week.

This was a fortunate situation, considering the latest news. Just this month five paintings, by Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani, that were stolen last year from a museum in Paris are now considered gone forever as they were thrown to the garbage and probably crushed by a rubbish truck. The destroyed paintings were estimated at £100 million.

Police have yet to discover many Picasso’s paintings that have been stolen in the last decade, such as “The Dance”, disappeared on February 24th, 2006, from the Museu da Chacara do Ceu in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Another painting made by Picasso that hasn’t yet to be found is “The Pigeon with Green Peas”, stolen from the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris last year, on May 20th.

About the Author

"In order to learn to draw you must learn to see" is the quote that inspired me to seek beauty in life, not only in art. I also may say that life is the best theme in art. I let drawing be only a hobby for me so I would never lose my passion by turning it into an every-day job. That is why I decided to write about art. Cristiana Dumitru lives in Bucharest, Romania, besides art she is also a news presenter on Radio ZU, the national Romanian radio.