Police in Greece have recovered a Pablo Picasso painting stolen in 2012 from the National Gallery in Athens, and arrested a suspect in the theft, authorities said late on Monday.
Head of a Woman, gifted by Pablo Picasso to Greece in 1949, was recovered in the rural area of Keratea, about 45km southeast of Athens, state agency ANA said.
Another painting stolen in the same heist — Piet Mondrian’s Stammer Windmill — was also found, the agency said.
The Spanish master had given the cubist painting to the Greek state as a tribute to the country’s resistance to Nazi Germany.
On the back, an inscription reads in French: “For the Greek people, a tribute by Picasso.”
Two men are believed to have broken into the National Gallery in January 2012, cutting the paintings from their frames. The break-in lasted only about seven minutes.
A sketch by 16th-century Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia, better known as Moncalvo, was also stolen in the same robbery.
A state report subsequently found that the National Gallery’s security had not been upgraded since 2000.
Several areas in the museum were out of range of security cameras, while the alarms were faulty and prone to ringing gratuitously.
On the night of the heist, the burglars had set off an alarm by manipulating an unlocked door, diverting security before sneaking into the building.
The sole guard told police he ran after one thief, who dropped another Mondrian oil painting.
The theft, at the height of the Greek debt crisis, was followed a few months later by the robbery of nearly 80 archeological artifacts from a museum in Olympia dedicated to the ancient Olympic Games. The items were recovered several months later.
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