February 3, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

Revealed "theft of the century": Picasso’s masterpiece found in the Keratea gorge

Two paintings stolen from the National Gallery in 2012, Picasso and Montrian, are now in the hands of the police, after a lengthy investigation and the resulting data that has been collected bit by bit over the years.

A major theft of paintings occurred in the early morning of January 9, 2012 by two people, one of whom entered the National Gallery, breaking an aluminum door, cutting the paintings out of frames and disappearing.

As announced yesterday, the 49-year-old Greek resident of Porto Rafti has been arrested by the Attica police department in the case of stealing paintings in 2012 from the National Gallery. The suspect was taken to GADA, where he admitted his involvement in the theft and indicated where he hid two paintings. Later, the masterpieces were found in the Keratea gorge, securely packed and protected from dampness.

What paintings were stolen

Picasso’s painting “Woman’s Head” was created in 1939 and donated by the great artist in 1949 to the Greek people. The painting has a special emotional meaning for our country, in addition to its artistic value. The work, a portrait of his beloved Dora Maar, was presented by the artist as a tribute to the Greeks and the people’s contribution to the resistance during the German occupation. On the reverse side of the canvas, the artist has written with his own hand the dedication “Pour le peuple Grec. Hommage de Picasso “from 10/14/1939 (” for brave resistance during the German occupation “).

The second is a 1905 painting by the Dutchman Piet Montrian, depicting a windmill on the river bank (Ο ανεμόμυλος Στάμμερ), which was acquired by Alexandros Pappas in 1963 and later donated to the National Gallery.

Works of art were stolen nine years ago from the National Gallery in the so-called “heist of the century”.

The criminals also took with them a 17th-century icon attributed to the Italian Guillermo Catsia, also known as Moncalvo (Moncalvo “Ο Αγιος Diego de Alcala”). Traces of it were later found in Italy.

In September 2019, art critic Serena D’Italia discovered the work of Guglielmo Caccia (Moncalvo) “Saint Diego de Alcala in Ecstasy with the Holy Trinity and Symbols of Passion” (early 17th century) in the online catalog of the famous Auction House of Florence. The expert devoted a lot of time to the piece of art, comparing it to the one that was stolen from the National Gallery in 2012, along with works by Pablo Picasso and Piet Montrian.

“The design was somewhat ‘corrected’, a signature and a low quality stamp were added,” the expert notes, “but many details, such as dark spots, are so similar that I’m almost sure it’s the same job.”

M. Chrysochoidis and Minister of Culture L. Mendoni held a press conference on the disclosure of the “theft of the century” and the discovery of paintings.

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