Suspect's Mother Retracts Statement on Burning Paintings

Detail of Matisse's "Reading Girl in White and Yellow," 1919, stolen from the Triton Foundation Collection during a special exhibition at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Detail of Matisse's "Reading Girl in White and Yellow," 1919, stolen from the Triton Foundation Collection during a special exhibition at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

A Romanian woman who is the mother of a suspect connected to the major art heist at Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum last fall has refuted her previous claim that she burned the paintings. On Monday, Olga Dogaru denied that she burned the seven masterpieces, valued at about $130 million, to protect her son, Radu.

Dogaru told the court on July 22, 2013, that she made up the story previously told to investigators about burning the paintings. She could be convicted to up to 30 years in prison if found guilty of "destruction with very serious consequences."

Forensic testing is underway on ash and nails found in Dogaru's stove.

Among the missing paintings are Gauguin's Girl in Front of Open Window; Picasso's 1971 Harlequin Head; Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed; Matisse's Reading Girl in White and Yellow; Monet's Waterloo Bridge, London, and Charing Cross Bridge, London; and Meyer De Haan's Self-Portrait.

The Kunsthal was showing the works in a special exhibition to mark its 20th anniversary, titled "Avant-Gardes." The exhibition was scheduled to run through January 20, 2013, and consisted of 150 works in all from the Triton Foundation Collection, owned by the Cordia family, one of the wealthiest families in the Netherlands.

Video taken at the museum shows that the theft took 90 seconds. Police arrived five minutes later after the alarm was triggered.

 

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