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Romanian art theft suspects deny burning priceless works by Picasso, Monet and others

By Daniel S Levine,

A group of suspected Romanian art thieves have denied that they burned priceless works of art by Picasso, Monet and others and said that they would be interested in returning them if there is a plea deal.

Back in October 2012, seven pieces of art were stolen from Rotterdam’s Kunsthal Museum in what is considered one of the biggest art heists in Netherlands history. Last month, the art world held its breath as word spread that the pieces may have been burned in a stove in Romania that belongs to a suspect’s mother.

But on the eve of a scheduled hearing for the suspects, they denied reports that they had destroyed the works of art, notes RTE News. The woman previously retracted the statement that she had burned the paintings to protect her son.

“Our clients have informed us the paintings were not burned and the documents we have make us believe them," Maria Vasii, one of their defense lawyers, told Romanian news agency Agerpres. “Our clients are waiting for the correct trial framework to take all steps needed to surrender these paintings to Dutch authorities.”

Another lawyer, Catalin Dancu, was quoted as saying that the men would give the art back if they get the right deal from prosecutors. “We have a surprise for the judges. Our clients want to say where these paintings are, but they want to make a deal. We are not in a position to give more details (at this time),” Dancu said.

The art heist took just minutes. The thieves made off with works by Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Lucian Freud, Paul Gauguin and Meyer de Haan.

Tuesday’s court hearing was rescheduled for Sept. 10 due to technical issues, RTE News reports.

 

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