Stolen Picassos recovered in Paris

8th August 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 7, 2007 (AFP) - French police arrested three people on Tuesday in possession of three works by Pablo Picasso stolen from the Paris flat of the artist's granddaughter as she lay sleeping back in February.

PARIS, Aug 7, 2007 (AFP) - French police arrested three people on Tuesday in possession of three works by Pablo Picasso stolen from the Paris flat of the artist's granddaughter as she lay sleeping back in February.

Police surveillance teams arrested the three suspects on Tuesday morning in the 16th arrondissement of Paris. They have been detained awaiting charges as inquiries continue.

The two paintings and a drawing by the Spanish master, worth more than 50 million euros (66 million dollars), were taken from the flat of Diana Widmaier-Picasso overnight on February 26.

"The works are apparently in good condition," said Widmaier-Picasso's lawyer Olivier Baratelli after their recovery. He praised the work of the police and the investigating magistrate on the case.

Officers recovered the paintings after a contact in the art world tipped off the OCBC, the French police unit dealing in stolen art, police sources said.

Together with the BRB, the elite police unit attached to the interior ministry that deals with serious crime, they mounted the surveillance operation that led to the arrests.

Anne Baldassari, director of the Picasso Museum in Paris, told AFP she was delighted at the news.

"I am delighted for the family. I know that Diana and her mother have suffered a lot," she said.

As to the condition of the paintings, she said: "I hope they have not been damaged. We know that the "Portrait of Jacqueline" was cut out using a cutter. I hope that the work has not suffered from that. We are at last going to know."

The thieves had made off with the 1961 "Portrait of Jacqueline", depicting Picasso's second wife and "Maya with Doll", a painting of the artist's daughter from 1938. The stolen drawing was called "Marie-Therese at age 21".

The paintings were on display in the apartment, located in the chic Left Bank area of Paris, but security precautions had been taken to protect the works, according to family lawyers.

"Maya with Doll" is one of Picasso's classic oil paintings in bright shades of green, blue and red and depicting young Maya in pigtails holding a doll and a small wooden horse.

Maya was Widmaier-Picasso's mother, who was the daughter of Picasso and Marie-Therese Walter, one of Picasso's many female companions.

Art dealers had agreed that the paintings were not sellable, given their masterpiece status, and were bound to reappear eventually.

According to one source close to the investigation, the paintings were not insured because of the prohibitive sums that the insurance companies asked for to cover such works.

Picasso's 1905 masterpiece "Boy with a Pipe" remains the most expensive painting ever sold since it went under the hammer at a New York auction for 104.2 million dollars in May 2004.

Picasso died on April 8, 1973 at his home in the southern French town of Mougins. He was 91.

AFP

Subject: French news

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