Two paintings by Piet Mondrian and Picasso have been found after being stolen almost a decade ago from the largest public gallery in Greece.
The works were found as a result of a confession by a 49-year-old man, as per the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Greece Later, the man led the police to a secluded forest just outside Athens in the Attica region. Here, the two paintings were recovered. However, a third painting – a drawing by Guglielmo Caccia – was claimed by the man to be destroyed on the day of the theft itself. The drawing was an ink work by the Mannerist artist.
The daring theft occurred at the National Gallery in Athens in 2012. A group of thieves stole the three works, while a fourth work (another painting by Mondrian) was dropped while they escaped. For years, investigators have been trying to locate the exact location of the stolen works. A major breakthrough seemed to have occurred earlier this year as reported by the Greek newspaper Proto Thema. It said that the agencies believed that at least the Picasso work, a portrait titled Head of a Woman, was still within the country. The painting was gifted by the artist to Greece due to the country’s splendid resistance to Nazi Germany. The investigators also revealed that the painting had been put up for as much as $20 million in the black market, but it was difficult to find a buyer due to the negative publicity of the heist.
The National Gallery re-opened in March this year after a long renovation period. The re-opening also marked the 200th anniversary of the country’s War of Independence. Now, the return of the works “heals its greatest wound”, as per Lina Mendoni (Minister of Culture and Sports, Greece).