A painting by Cézanne, one of four paintings stolen in a heist at a Swiss museum in 2008, has been found by the police in Serbia. Three people have been arrested.
The painting, believed to be 'The Boy in the Red Vest' is worth upwards of 100 million US dollars and was found on April 12 during an operation carried out in Serbia's capital, Belgrade, and in the city of Čačak by specialised police units, according to the Belgrade newspaper Blic.
The BBC reports that the 2008 robbery from a private museum in Zurich, Switzerland was one of the biggest art robberies in Europe at the time. The other paintings were 'Poppies near Vethuil' by Claude Monet, 'Blooming Chestnut Branches' by Vincent van Gogh and 'Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter' by Edgar Degas.
The robbery at the privately owned Emil Georg Buehrle gallery was carried out by three men who were wearing masks and were armed. Witnesses, who were forced to lie on the floor during the robbery, said that the men spoke "German with a Slavic accent". The Monet and Van Gogh were found not long after the incident in a car parked in Zurich. There has been no sign of the Degas.
The Daily Telegraph reports that Serbian police had been working on the operation for some months in conjunction with other European police forces. The paper says that the alleged leader of the three man gang, Ivan Pekovic, was cornered in a car park following a car chase through the streets of the Serbian capital. The paper reports:
"The recovery of the painting comes a year after Serb police found two works by Picasso worth £1.8 million stolen from another Swiss museum in 2008. But Serbian art experts believe that there could be 10 further stolen works of art still hidden in a country which has become a favoured destination for art thieves owing to a thriving black market."
Art experts from Switzerland are being flown in to confirm the authenticity of the painting but there seems little doubt that it is Cézanne's masterpiece which is oil on canvas and was painted between 1888 and 1890. He painted three other versions of the painting, with the boy standing, sitting and with slight variations in dress. The three other versions are in museums in the United States.