Dutch art theft: Two Romanians jailed

Eugen Darie, (left) and Radu Dogaru leave court Aug 2013 Eugen Darie, centre, and Radu Dogaru, right, had admitted the charges

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Two Romanian men involved in one of the most spectacular art thefts in recent years have each been jailed for six years and eight months.

Ringleader Radu Dogaru and accomplice Eugen Darie had already admitted stealing seven paintings from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam last year.

They told the Bucharest court that security at the museum was very lax.

The paintings, including works by Picasso, Gauguin and Matisse, have not been found and may have been burnt.

Dogaru and Darie, who were not in court to hear the sentencing, were convicted of aggravated theft and "taking part in a criminal organisation".

Artwork stolen from Kunsthal Museum

Monet's Waterloo Bridge
  • Pablo Picasso's 1971 Harlequin Head
  • Claude Monet's 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London (above) and Charing Cross Bridge, London
  • Henri Matisse's 1919 Reading Girl in White and Yellow
  • Paul Gauguin's 1898 Girl in Front of Open Window
  • Meye de Haan's Self-Portrait circa 1890
  • Lucien Freud's 2002 Woman with Eyes Closed

They were ordered to pay 6,000 lei (£1,130) in court costs.

It was in October 2012 that thieves broke in through a rear emergency exit of the museum, grabbed the paintings off the wall and fled within minutes.

Dogaru told the court that security had been "practically non-existent" and he had "entered... just with a screwdriver".

Darie took the paintings to Romania hidden in pillowcases, the court heard, and they tried to sell them on several occasions but without success.

Eventually, an art expert alerted the police leading to a series of arrests.

The trial of three others resumes next month. One of them has already pleaded guilty.

Dogaru's mother, Olga, also faces trial accused of destroying the works. She originally told investigators she burned the paintings but later denied it.

However, experts from Romania's National History Museum said ashes retrieved from her stove included the remains of three oil paintings and nails from frames used before the end of the 19th Century.

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