Dutch 'Indiana Jones of the art world' nets €25m Picasso in Amsterdam

Lawrence Kim
March 27, 2019

The Dutch art historian and art crime investigator recently located Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Dora Maar ( also known as Buste de Femme) after it was stolen from a Saudi sheikh's yacht on the French Riviera in 1999.

Dora Maar, born Theodora Markovitch, was a photographer who was in a relationship with Picasso from 1936 to 1943.

But now Brand says the portrait was being passed around the Dutch black market, before being delivered to him 10 days ago by its current owner.

Arthur Brand said Tuesday he recovered the 1938 painting "Buste de Femme" 2 weeks ago after trailing it for years in Amsterdam.

In 2015 he garnered worldwide attention when he helped German police find two bronze horse statues by Josef Thorak which once stood outside the office of Adolf Hitler and were believed to be destroyed in the Battle of Berlin.

It was yet another success for Brand, who hit the headlines last year for returning a stolen 1,600-year-old mosaic to Cyprus.

According to the Associated Press, Brand knew the painting was legitimate as soon as he laid eyes on it.

The Picasso painting, he told news agency AFP, was circulated for years, "often being used as collateral, popping up in a drug deal here, four years later in an arms deal there".

It took several years and a few dead ends before pinning down that it was actually the Picasso stolen from Saudi Arabian billionaire Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh's yacht as the mega-cruiser was being refurbished, Brand said.

Brand said his contacts said a businessman in the Netherlands received the painting as a form of payment and he wasn't sure what to do with it.

"He thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal".

"Everyone assumed it had been destroyed - that's what happens with 90% of all stolen art, because it can't be put on sale", he told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, adding that after he recovered the painting, he hung it on his wall for the night "and thoroughly enjoyed it".

A Picasso expert from New York's Pace Gallery flew in to verify its authenticity at a high-security warehouse in Amsterdam.

Police in France and the Netherlands have said that they will not prosecute the painting's last owner.

Posing as an American collector, he helped authorities carry out a series of raids which uncovered the statues and a wider collection of lost Nazi Art. The painting has since been given to an insurance company.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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