Art thief who robbed billionairess arrested
27 February 2004
MADRID – Spanish police said Friday they had arrested an art thief who stole priceless paintings from the home of billionairess Esther Koplowitz.
Koplowitz, who is one of the richest people in Spain, was named Friday by Forbes magazine in their list of the world’s richest.
She is said to be worth EUR 1.41 billion and was number 342 on the magazine’s list.
The art thief escaped from custody in 2002 after being arrested in connection with the theft of 19 paintings, part of Spain’s most valuable art collections.
The paintings, which included works by Goya, Brueghel and Pissarro, were stolen in August 2001 from the home of Koplowitz.
In 2002, an undercover operation by Spanish police led to the recovery of 10 paintings stolen the year before.
Seven other works of art are still missing.
Two other men have been charged in connection with the theft.
The arrests were made after an officer posing as an agent for an art collector met two of the men at a hotel in Madrid.
Dozens of plain-clothes police took part in the operation, some dressed as beggars and street cleaners.
The National Police said Friday Juan Manuel has been arrested in connection with the theft of the paintings, drug dealing and the murder of a lawyer.
He was arrested in Madrid with two other men, both from Bosnia, while they were driving in a Mercedes.
Manuel had false documents from France and his car was registered in Luxemburg.
He was serving a five-year jail term but was released from jail under probation.
Manuel went on the run in November 2002 and has been wanted by police since.
An extensive investigation has been underway involving police forces from other countries and Interpol.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news