BERLIN – Ashes found in a stove in Romania owned by the mother of a suspected art thief contained fragments of oil paintings, said Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the director of the museum that analyzed the charred remains.
It seemed to support the claim, which was then retracted, by Olga Dogaru to burning the paintings — by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Lucian Freud, Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin and Meyer de Haan — worth tens of millions of dollars.
The National History Museum’s science laboratory in Bucharest has submitted its initial report to the prosecutor for the trial of Radu Dogaru, Olga’s son, and suspected accomplices, Oberlander- Tarnoveanu said by telephone from Munich.
A Bucharest court is investigating the October 2012 theft of seven paintings from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam. The burglary ranks among the most spectacular art heists of recent decades. Comparable incidents are the 2010 theft of five paintings — also including works by Picasso and Matisse — from the Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris, and the 1990 burglary from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston of art worth an estimated $500 million.
Olga Dogaru said she burned the paintings in an effort to protect her son, but later denied it. Her lawyer Catalin Dancu said they planned to have the evidence sent to the Louvre laboratory “to clarify once and for all.”
But Oberlander-Tarnoveanu said, “We found a lot of pigments used in professional oil paints and a large number of these fragments of pigment were attached to canvas primer which bore the imprint of canvas. The conclusion is that somebody burned oil paintings in the stove.”