It may be a case of art to ashes—and scientists are trying to get to the bottom of the mystery. A Romanian museum official said yesterday that ash from the oven of a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-dollar paintings—including a Matisse, a Picasso and a Monet—contains paint, canvas, and nails. The finding is evidence that Olga Dogaru may have been telling the truth when she claimed to have burned the paintings, which were taken from a Dutch museum last year in a daring daylight heist.
The director of Romania's National History Museum said museum forensic specialists had found "a series of substances which are specific to paintings and pictures," including some paint, canvas, and nail remnants that pre-dated the 20th century. He added that it was "a crime against humanity to destroy universal art." The next step is to compare the remnants to what is known about the missing paintings, which given their quality and status would be well-documented in photographs and condition reports. (Read more art theft stories.)