Thursday, April 12, 2012
A stolen Paul Cézanne's painting was recovered during an operation coordinated between Swiss authorities and officers from Serbia's Anti-Organised Crime Unit.
The painting in question is "The Boy in the Red Vest"(also known as The Boy in a Red Waistcoat) or “Jeune garçon au gilet rouge,” an Oil on canvas (79.5 x 64 cm) painted ca. 1888/90 and worth €83 million. Three other versions of the painting are in museums in the US.
Three elements connected to the theft were arrested in Belgrade and in the southern town of Cacek. The alleged leader of the gang, Ivan Pekovic, was caught in a car park after a car chase through the streets of Belgrade. The gang was also found in possession of a substantial collection of firearms and more than €1.2 million in cash.
The painting was stolen February 2008, when the thieves, speaking German with Slav accent, burst into the Foundation E. G. Bührle Collection, ordering the staff to lie down on the floor while they took the Cezanne and three other masterpieces: Dega's "Place de la Concorde," Monet's "Poppy field at Vetheuil" and Van Gogh's "Blossoming Chestnut Branches." With near €120 million of stolen art, it was considered one of the major art robberies in the last 20 years.
At time the Swiss police recovered the Monet and the Van Gogh in a psychiatric hospital car park soon after the robbery, but the Cezanne and the Degas disappeared without trace; with an estimated value of €8 million, Dega's "Place de la Concorde" (1875) is still missing.
This recovery of stolen artwork happens near six months after the Serbian police found two paintings by Pablo Picasso, also in Belgrade: "Tête de Cheval" (1962) and "Verre et Pichet" (1944), which had also been stolen in Switzerland only two weeks before the assault.
Art stolen in Western Europe is sometimes either smuggled through Serbia and onto Montenegro, or taken to Kosovo.