The three Romanians who were arrested for their alleged role in the theft of seven artworks — including pieces by Picasso, Matisse, Freud, and others — from Kunsthal Rotterdam in October of last year should be released for lack of evidence, according to their lawyer, the AP reports.
“There is no evidence that this was an organized criminal group,” Doina Lupu said during a court hearing in Bucharest. “The arrests were based on assumptions and on simple declarations and these are not enough.” She urged the court not to extradite her clients to the Netherlands; the men will continue to be held pending an investigation. The paintings’ whereabouts remain unknown.
A prosecutor said that one of the suspects, Radu Dogaru, had taken two of the stolen pieces (by Matisse and Gauguin) to be evaluated by the Romanian National Art Museum‘s curator of foreign paintings, Maria Dragu, an accusation Dogaru denied. The National Art Museum responded that Dragu is currently on leave.
Like Dogaru, the two other suspects, Alexandru Bitu and Eugen Darie, deny any involvement in the heist. Darie, for his part, did mention he had visited the Kunsthal twice to peruse its collection of bronze sculptures.
— Benjamin Sutton
(Image via Kunsthal Rotterdam/Facebook.)