[AP] UPDATE, 1:00 pm EDT, April 12: Zurich prosecutors said Thursday that the E.G. Buehrle Foundation certified that the painting is Cezanne’s “The Boy in the Red Vest” that was stolen in 2008.
[Guardian, Libération] Police in Serbia believe they have recovered an impressionist masterpiece by Paul Cézanne worth at least £68m that was stolen at gunpoint in one of the world’s biggest art heists four years ago, a police official has said.
“Experts in Serbia and abroad are trying to ascertain whether the painting is an original. This painting is worth tens of millions of euros,” the official added.
The canvas was one of four paintings stolen from a Swiss art gallery in 2008 by a trio of masked robbers who burst in just before closing time and told staff to lay on the floor.
The paintings were reportedly worth over £100m at the time and the heist was the biggest art theft in Swiss history and one of the largest in the world. The painting was stolen in 2008 from the Emil Georg Bührle gallery in Zurich, a private collection founded by a second world war arms dealer and entrepreneur.
Two of the stolen canvasses, one by Claude Monet and the other by Vincent van Gogh, were recovered days later abandoned in a car, but the other two – the Cézanne and a painting by Edgar Degas, have been missing for the last four years.
Cézanne’s Boy in a Red Waistcoat is thought to have been painted around 1888 and depicts a boy in traditional Italian dress – a red waistcoat, a blue handkerchief and a blue belt. Three other versions of the painting are in museums in the United States.
Last October, Serbian police recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso stolen in 2008 from a gallery in the Swiss town of Pfäffikon, near Zurich.
The police official said law enforcement agencies from several countries had co-operated in the investigation that led to the apparent recovery of the Cezanne masterpiece.
Serbia’s state prosecutor is expected to issue a statement or give a press briefing on the case later on Thursday.