Published: Fri, March 29, 2019
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

A Dutch Art Detective Just Recovered a Picasso Stolen 20 Years Ago

A Dutch Art Detective Just Recovered a Picasso Stolen 20 Years Ago

The painting found by a Dutch art detective worth 28 million US dollars was one of Picasso's masterpieces.

Last year, Brand also made headlines for recovering a 1,600-year-old Byzantine mosaic of Saint Mark after it was stolen from a Cyprus church in 1974.

"[The businessman] thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal".

Brand says he knew it was the real thing as soon as he got his hands on it.

Mr Brand's search for the stolen portrait began in 2015 after he heard that a "Picasso stolen from a ship" was being circulated among criminals in the Netherlands, although he did not know exactly which work it was. "The urge was too great; I couldn't resist", he said, adding that it made "my apartment one of the most expensive in Amsterdam for a day". "It turns out the deal was legitimate - the method of payment was not", Brand laughed.

"I told the intermediaries, it's now or never, because the painting is probably in a very bad state".

He said that since the theft from a yacht moored in the swanky French Riviera port of Antibes, a number of forgeries had been offered to insurers and rejected.

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The contacts brought the painting in two garbage bags to Brand's residence, where they toasted to the painting's discovery before leaving.

It has since been verified and is in the hands of an unnamed insurance company.

When the new owner realised the painting could have been the long lost Picasso he reached out to try and pinpoint the origins of the work, somewhat cautiously as he was concerned of the legal implications of owning a stolen painting, if it indeed was proven to be so.

As for the painting's original owner, it remains to be seen whether Sheikh Abdul Mohsen will seek to retrieve Portrait of Dora Maar, since he's certainly been busy.

Brand, a renowned sleuth whose previous finds include a pair of bronze horses sculpted for Adolf Hitler, had teased the find last week on Twitter, saying he was working on "one of the biggest cases of my career".

"If there is a reward, it should go to the people who brought it in", Brand, who seems well aware of how insane his story sounds, told the Times.

Correction: An earlier version of this article gave the incorrect name of a database recommended to report a stolen item.

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