Romanian suspect 'saw paintings stolen in Dutch heist'

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A former Romanian model, charged in connection with the October theft of seven masterpieces from a Dutch museum, admitted he saw two of the paintings after they were taken, his lawyer told AFP Wednesday.

But more than three months after the spectacular heist, the whereabouts of all the paintings are still unknown.

"My client saw the two paintings when another person tried to sell them to a potential buyer, Constantin Dinescu," Catalin Dancu said after his client, Petre Condrat, was heard by prosecutors.

The works that were offered for sale in Romania were a Matisse and a Gauguin, prosecutors said last week.

Condrat, who is currently the assistant of well-known Romanian fashion designer Catalin Botezatu, was charged with receiving stolen goods but set free pending the investigation.

The lawyer said his client had been contacted by his friend Radu Dogaru who asked him to find a buyer for the paintings.

Dogaru, one of three suspects arrested last week for "complicity to aggravated theft" in the case, told Condrat the paintings came from France.

"The meeting took place at Mr Dinescu's house. My client met there with an art expert and with the man who wanted to sell the two paintings," Dancu said.

"When he went there my client did not know the paintings had been stolen", he added.

It was only when the pictures were identified by the expert and the potential buyer that Condrat "realised something was wrong," Dancu said.

The sales did not go through.

Six Romanians have so far been charged in connection with the heist, judicial sources told AFP.

To advance the search for the missing artworks, Condrat was on Wednesday submitted to a lie detector, his lawyer said.

"The suspects have made contradictory statements about the whereabouts of the paintings," he explained.

The prosecutor's office declined to comment.

Following the spectacular heist, which gripped the Netherlands and the art world, Dutch police released grainy security camera footage of the theft, which took place around 3:00 am.

The footage showed two apparently young males entering and leaving the Kunsthal museum in central Rotterdam within barely 90 seconds.

The seven masterpieces, estimated at between 100 and 200 million euros ($135 million and $270 million) include Picasso's "Tete d'Arlequin", Monet's "Waterloo Bridge" and Lucian Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed".

© 2013 AFP

1 Comment To This Article

  • carrico posted:

    on 31st January 2013, 15:41:22 - Reply

    Ah, the plot thickens. And who will star in the screen version?