Ashes in Romania hold key to mystery of stolen modern masters

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Ashes in Romania hold key to mystery of stolen modern masters

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The works of seven modern masters are unlikely to hang in public view again. Some of the paintings reckoned to be among the most important of the 20th century by Picasso, Monet, and Lucien Freud are, experts believe now nothing more than a pile of ashes.

The remains were uncovered in a remote area of Romania where the mother of one of the suspected thieves of the paintings allegedly burned them in a stove.

Ernest Tarnoveanu who is the Director of the Romanian History Museum is convinced the detective work has proven the ashes are from some of the paintings.

“We are sure that what we have found are the remains of the burned paintings. The types of nails and clamps used are showing three plus one of the paintings. This is certain, measurable and verifiable. Anybody who examines the ashes will reach the same conclusion,” he said.

Seven paintings valued at around 30 million euros were stolen last October from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam. A group of six Romanians are being held suspected of carrying out what has been described as the “theft of the century”.

The works of art had been hidden in a cemetery in Romania before being burned though the mother who initially claimed she set light to them later changed her story.