ATHENS — "Today is a special day of joy and great emotion," Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said on Tuesday, regarding the recovery of Pablo Picasso’s "Head of a Woman" and Piet Mondrian’s "Stammer Windmill", which had been stolen from the National Gallery in Athens in 2012.
During a joint press conference with Citizen Protection Michalis Chrisochoidis, Mendoni stated, among others: "We celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Revolution of 1821. Picasso's painting carries special weight and value for the Greek people as Picasso dedicated it to their struggle against the fascist axis and it bears the handwritten signature of the painter. That is why the painting is impossible to sell and exhibit as it is completely identifiable as a product of theft from the National Gallery. The National Gallery closed for renovation in 2012, shortly after the theft. It reopened in March 2021 for a few days, in order to honour the struggle for independence and self-determination of the Greek people. The correlation is obvious," Mendoni said and added:
"On May 14, it started to receive the public. The National Gallery is healing its greatest wound, the theft of 2012 and the work is returning to the newly renovated National Gallery which does not need to envy anything found in the galleries of Europe. The year 2021 is the year of the Gallery," concluded the minister, expressing gratitude to Chrisochoidis and his associates for the uninterrupted search for and recovery of the works.
The "Head of a Woman" was painted by Picasso in 1939 and is a portrait of his partner, Dora Maar. In 1949, Picasso offered the painting to the Greek people for their contribution to the resistance during the German Occupation.
On the back of the painting there is a handwritten dedication in the painter's hand, which reads: "Pour le Peuple Grec, Hommage de Picasso" (For the Greek people, Tribute from Picasso).