Kunsthal Museum, Rotterdam

Kunsthal Museum, Rotterdam, 1992
Image: Rory Hyde via Flickr CC

In October, seven masterpieces were stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Picasso, Monet, Matisse, and Freud were among the artists whose works were thieved, making it one of the biggest art heists in history. Three suspects have now been apprehended in Romania, and though there are still no leads on where the stolen masterpieces might be, the suspects are still being investigated.

As of now, all three are denying their involvement in the Dutch art heist, their lawyer arguing that there was insufficient evidence for their arrest and deportation to the Netherlands.

“There is no evidence that this was an organized criminal group,” Doina Lupu argued in an attempt to keep the suspects from being sent back to the Netherlands to be investigated for involvement in the Dutch art heist. “The arrests were based on assumptions and on simple declarations and these are not enough.”

It is alleged that one suspect, Radu Dogaru, took two paintings, one by Matisse and another by Gauguin, to be evaluated by Maria Dragu at the Romanian National Art Museum. He has denied this claim, and Dragu is currently on leave. Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie have also denied involvement, though Darie has admitted to visiting the Kunsthal gallery in the past.

Authorities suspect that there were more people involved in the art heist, but no other suspects have yet been revealed. The three current suspects are being detained at the Romanian Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT).

The paintings are estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of euros were they to be sold legally at auction. They have, however been widely publicized and registered internationally as stolen, so that is not likely to have happened. If they have been sold, it would have been done so illegally and for a mere fraction of their overall worth.