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Three Suspects Arrested in Relation to the Kunsthal Museum Theft, Yet Paintings Remain MIA

Empty wall space where Matisse’s “La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune”
once hung in the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam.
Source: The Star. 

On January 22, Romanian police arrested three suspects believed to be involved with Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum theft.  Although the men are now in custody, the stolen paintings remain missing.  On October 16, 2012, thieves made off with seven paintings valued together in a wide range of estimates: $79 million by The Daily Telegraph, $395 million by The Independent, $160 million by The Times, $130 million by the Bloomberg News, over $100 million by Forbes, and between $63 to $95 million by The Art Loss Register.  

 The Romanian Insider reports that the police became involved when a Matisse with questionable provenance was offered to a Romanian buyer.  A former girlfriend of one of the three identified the suspects from a photograph as Mihai-Alexandru Bitu, Eugen Darie and Radu Dogaru.  Initially it was reported that two paintings were found in one of the suspects homes, but this turned out to be false. 

Romanian police arrest one of the three suspects.
Source: Adevraul via ARCA.

Much remains unknown.  Speculation, grandiose headlines, misinformation and even some mud slinging abound.  All that is known, however, is that seven master works, prized pieces of art history, are missing and in danger.  They include Meyer de Haan’s Self Portrait (1890), Gauguin’s Girl in Front of Open Window (1898), Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London (1901) and Charing Cross Bridge, London (1901),  Matisse’s Reading Girl in White and Yellow (1919), Picasso’s Harlequin Head (1971), and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed (2002).  

The list is almost a eulogy, but certainly not an obituary.  The arrests are the first step toward finding the paintings.   

Sources: Association for Research into Crimes Against Art, BBC News, The Telegraph, The Romanian Insider