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Greece Seeks Europol, Interpol Help About Art Thief's Contacts

Αssociated Press

A cubist female bust by the Spanish painter Picasso, left, and a 1905 representational oil painting of a riverside windmill by the Dutch painter Mondrian are displayed by police officers, in Athens during a press conference, on Tuesday, June 29, 2021. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – After the arrest of a construction worker and recovery of paintings by Pablo Picasso and  Piet Mondrian stolen from the National Gallery in 2012, Greek authorities have asked Europol and Interpol about his contacts and travel.

The Greek Culture Ministry had reported the discovery of  Picasso’s Head of a Woman and  Mondrian’s Stammer Windmill that were whisked away from the country's art museum.

Greek police have requested information from the Dutch authorities through Europol as part of the investigation into whether his trips to Rotterdam coincided with the theft that took place at the Kunsthal museum in the city in 2012, during which seven paintings were removed.

They've also contacted Interpol for information about his travels to Dubai in order to look for potential buyers and to make contacts with art dealers, said Kathimerini, or find a fence to sell them, 

The suspect, who was not named despite the notoriety of the case, was put into pre-trial detention after appearing before an investigative magistrate who was to get an expert opinion on the value of the recovered art.

That will be used to assess what kind of charges will be brought against the man who is said to be a painter – of rooms, not art.

The man was said to have kept the works in his house before, in apparent fear they would finally be found, hidden them in a warehouse before concealing both in protective wrapping and hiding them in a gorge outside Athens where they were found, said the British newspaper The Guardian.

The Picasso was a gift to the Greek people by the artist in honor of their resistance to a Nazi occupation in World War II

The National Gallery, Greece’s biggest public collection, only recently reopened after being closed for years for renovation, the paper noted of the timing.

Culture Minister said in a presentation of the retrieved works that it was “a special day, (a day of) great joy and emotion”.