Picasso Painting Stolen from Saudi Sheikh's Yacht Recovered After 20 Years
(UPI) — A Dutch art investigator announced Tuesday he found a Pablo Picasso (pictured) painting stolen off a Saudi sheikh’s yacht in 1999.
The discovery came four years after Arthur Brand first began looking for the cubist artwork painted in 1938. The painting, Portrait of Dora Maar, was reported stolen by Saudi billionaire Sheikh Abdul Mohsen in 1999.
“Everyone assumed it had been destroyed — that’s what happens with 90 percent of all stolen art, because it can’t be put on sale,” Brand told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant in an article translated by BBC News.
Brand said two people with connections in the underground art world contacted him about the painting earlier this month. They said it was in the Netherlands.
“They told me, ‘It’s in the hands of a businessman who got it as payment, and he doesn’t know what to do with it,'” Brand told the New York Times. “I talked to the two guys and we made a plan to get it out of his hands.”
The contacts brought the painting in two garbage bags to Brand’s residence, where they toasted to the painting’s discovery before leaving. Brand said he then hung the painting on his wall.
Stolen Picasso unearthed by ‘Indiana Jones of art’ Arthur Brand (AFP)
“The urge was too great; I couldn’t resist,” he said.
Brand said a Picasso expert from New York’s Pace Gallery authenticated the painting before he handed it over to retired British detective Dick Ellis, who founded Scotland Yard’s art and antiquities investigative unit. The painting has since been given to an insurance company.
Brand said his contacts said a businessman in the Netherlands received the painting as a form of payment and he wasn’t sure what to do with it. French and Dutch police said they don’t intend to prosecute the businessman.
Dora Maar, born Theodora Markovitch, was a photographer who was in a relationship with Picasso from 1936 to 1943. She died at the age of 89 in 1997.