Judge Orders Art Thieves To Pay $26 Million

Waterloo Bridge, London (1901) Claude Monet Photo: www.politie-rotterdam-rijnmond.nl/

In 2012, seven paintings by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, and Lucien Freud were temporarily on display at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam; then they were stolen. The raid, lasting only three minutes, was called “the theft of the century” by the Dutch press. Since, Radu Dogaru, his mother Olga, Eugen Darie and Adrian Procop have been convicted of the crime. Now it’s time to pay.

On Monday, a court in Rotterdam ordered the four Romanian thieves to reimburse the missing paintings’ insurers, ARCA reports. Prosecutors valued the paintings at more than €18 million ($26 million).

“We will contest the ruling,” the Dogarus’ lawyer, Catalin Dancu, told AFP. “In the first place, we don’t believe the stolen paintings were the originals. Secondly, it is up to the museum to pay because it took the stupid risk of displaying the artwork without a proper surveillance system.”

Olga Dogaru claimed to have burned the paintings in her stove in Carcaliu, a village in eastern Romania, after being unable to sell them. She later retracted the statement, but an investigation is currently ongoing to determine whether the paintings were indeed burned.

Director of Romania’s National History Museum, Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu told AFP that evidence of “painting primer [and] the remains of canvas and paint” have been found in the stove. Experts have yet to confirm whether those remains are indeed from the missing paintings. The stolen works include Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London (1901) and Picasso’s Harlequin Head (1971).

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