A museum in Romania is analyzing ashes that were recovered from a stove to figure out if they were seven paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others that were stolen last year. The paintings had been stolen in a daytime heist, the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands, with the works estimated at tens of millions of dollars.
The ashes were found in the stove of Olga Dogaru, who is the mother of Radu Dogaru, a suspect charged with stealing the paintings. The mother told investigators that after her son was arrested in January she buried the works in an abandoned house, then a cemetery, then dug them up again to burn the paintings in the stove. Police searched the village for the stolen works, so she tried to get rid of the evidence.
Police aren't exactly buying the mother's account, though it will take months for the results to be conclusive. The stolen paintings were: Picasso's 1971 Harlequin Head; Matisse's 1919 Reading Girl in White and Yellow; Paul Gauguin's 1898 Girl in Front of Open Window; Monet's 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London; Meyer de Haan's Self-Portrait, around 1890; and Lucian Freud's 2002 work Woman With Eyes Closed.
UPDATE: We have good news. While standing before a three-judge panel, the mother said, “I did not burn them," the New York Times reports. “I believed that what I said before was the best thing at the moment, that this was the right thing to do.”