Yet Another Odd Twist in the Case of a Stolen Picasso

Writer thought she had been led to the painting. Apparently not
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2018 7:19 AM CST
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In this Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 file photo, the empty space where Henri Matisse' painting "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune" was hanging, right, is seen next to a painting by Maurice Denis, center, and Pierre Bonnard, left, at Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(Newser) – For a brief moment, there was hope that a lost Picasso—one of seven artworks stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, Netherlands, in 2012—had been found. Instead, it was seemingly another odd twist in an odd story. Mira Feticu, an author who penned a novel inspired by the heist, received a letter on Nov. 6 telling her where she could find the "Harlequin Head" painting, which is thought to be worth north of $900,000. The New York Times reports that, as instructed, she found it wrapped in plastic under a rock and a bit of soil in a Romanian forest and handed it over to authorities on Saturday. On Sunday, though, she told the AFP she had been duped as part of a stunt staged by a Belgian theater company, whose directors emailed her to say the letter was part of a project examining the "value of truth," as the BBC puts it.

The project, called True Copy, is apparently inspired by Dutch master forger Geert Jan Jansen, who for decades duped unsuspecting buyers into purchasing his forgeries, which included, yes, works by Picasso. His scheme was discovered in 1994. The production company says it wishes to talk to Feticu before commenting further, but "will be back with more details ... within the next few days." The Times quotes her as saying, "I feel angry and sad if this is truth." As for the 2012 heist, four Romanians were jailed for the crime, but the works remain unaccounted for. The mother of the alleged ringleader in 2013 claimed to have burned the paintings, then said she didn't. (Though at the time, officials said there was some evidence that suggested she initially told the truth.)

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