The Stolen Picasso (Buste de Femme – Dora Maar – 1938)
Estimated at $28 million Picassos’ Buste de Femme (Dora Maar – 1938) has been recovered. For years, Dutch investigator Arthur Brand searched for the Picasso painting unfortunately stolen 20 years ago. The painting depicts the artist Dora Maar, Picasso’s lover and muse from 1936 to 1943.
As early as 2015, the stolen Picasso was making the rounds in the Dutch underworld. Brand, having long feared the painting to be destroyed, began the arduous journey by putting out inquiries.
The last legitimate owner was the Saudi billionaire Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh. Stolen from the vessel in 1999 berthed in Antibes, France. He kept the painting aboard his yacht, Coral Island. Previously the canvas hung in Picasso’s home until his death in 1973.
Black Market Collateral
The recovery of stolen art is more than replacing the canvas to its rightful owner. Consequently according to Brand “It’s not only the public interest to recover stolen works of art”. He continues, “You are also reducing the amount of collateral that is circling the black market and funds criminality.”
The painting valued at $7 million at the time of theft, baffled the French police.
The first big break happening in 2015, where Brand learned of the painting on the Dutch circuit, although he was unaware of which one exactly.
Currently, the painting is now in the hands of an unnamed insurance firm. Immediately authenticated by a representative present from the Pace Gallery in New York. Celebrating its safe return, Brand promptly hung the painting on his wall. His apartment the richest in Amsterdam “for the day”, he “thoroughly enjoyed it”. Brand then delivered it to the unnamed company’s representative Dick Ellis. A British police officer who is responsible for founding Scotland Yard’s art and antiquities squad.
Propping up drug and arms deals, perhaps changing hands as many as ten times. The painting used unfortunately as collateral on the black market. Once contacted by two representatives of a Dutch businessman, Brand acted quickly. Realizing that it could sink back into the underworld. “He was at his wits’ end,” Brant told Agence France Presse. “He thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal. It turns out the deal was legitimate—the method of payment was not.”
Miraculously, the painting returned two weeks ago. “You know it’s a Picasso because there is some magic coming off it,” Brand said to the Associated Press.
Suited Indiana Jones
Arthur Brand is no stranger to the dark underbelly of the art world. His career traces back to 1994, having helped recover Edvard Munch’s “Scream”. Previously, he has tracked down artworks stolen from the Netherlands’ Westfries Museum in 2005. Brand is responsible for the recovery of paintings by Salvador Dalí and Tamara de Lempicka.
Brand Known as “an art world Indiana Jones in a suit,”. He is now investigating the famous 1990 heist at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Announcing that the missing masterpieces—which include Johannes Vermeer’s The Concert and Rembrandt’s Christ in the Storm on the Sea of Galilee—were in Ireland. Their retuen however, not secure. Currently, “Buste de Femme” is back in possession of the insurance company. They will decided the next steps for the recovered painting.