Henri Matisse, Reading Girl in White and Yellow
The mother of a suspected art thief has claimed she put seven stolen masterpieces by artists including Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Lucian Freud in her kitchen stove and set them alight.
Olga Doragu, mother of Romanian suspect Radu Doragu, told police she burnt the paintings in a bid to destroy the evidence when her son was arrested after paintings valued at £100m ($150m, euro 115m)) disappeared from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam last October in less than 90 seconds in broad daylight.
"After the arrest of my son I was very scared because I knew that what had happened was very serious," court documents record Doragu's mother as having told police.
"I placed the suitcase containing the paintings in the stove. I put in some logs, slippers and rubber shoes and waited until they had completely burned."
Dogaru told investigators she had buried the art in an abandoned house and then in a cemetery in the village of Caracliu.
She said she later dug the works up and in February she burned them after police began a search of the village.
In May, investigators were reported to have combed through ashes at her home for evidence. The National History Museum of Romania is now examining the material, said Gabriela Chiru, a spokeswoman for the Dutch prosecutor.
She said authorities were keeping an open mind over the truth opf Mrs Doragu's account, pending the findings.
Radu Doragu, the alleged ringleader, and two other Romanians are in custody awaiting trial in August for the heist, which caused a sensation in the art world and was dubbed the "theft of the century" in Holland.
Thieves broke in through a rear emergency exit at the gallery in the Netherlands on 16 October 2012, before vanishing along with the paintings on the wall, in less than 90 seconds.
Police arrived five minutes after the alarm was raised, but found nothing but bare walls, hanging wires and tire tracks in grass behind the gallery.
The stolen works include Picasso's Tete d'Arlequin, Monet's Waterloo Bridge, Lucian Freud's Woman with Eyes Closed, Gauguin's Girl in Front of Open Window and Matisse's Reading Girl in White and Yellow.
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