She did burn them

July 23 2013

Image of She did burn them

Picture: AFP

Or at least, three of them. Yesterday, the mother of one of the thiefs accused of stealing seven works of art from the Kunsthal in Rotterdam, who had told police she burned the paintings, retracted her claim. This may, as the New York Times reports, have something to do with the fact that:

Under Romanian law, the crime of “destruction with very serious consequences,” one of three charges against Mrs. Dogaru, carries a sentence of 3 to 10 years — far longer than the punishment for her two other alleged crimes, “supporting a criminal group” and “assisting criminals.”

Oops. Undermining her new found innocence, however, is a report from Reuters that the charred remains of three paintings have been found in her stove:

"We gathered overwhelming evidence that three paintings were destroyed by fire," said Gheorghe Niculescu, head of the team examining ashes that police found in a stove at her house in Carcaliu, a village in southeastern Romania.

Crucial pieces of evidence examined with high-tech equipment were the nails used to fasten the canvases to their wooden frames, and a particular blue paint, Niculescu, of the National Research Investigation Center in Physics and Chemistry, told Reuters.

But he could not say which paintings were destroyed, nor say whether the burned remains could have come from other paintings.

Really keen AHNers can hear me discuss the theft on the BBC World Service, here at 48:20 in.

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