Art law Thefts News USA

Romanian art thieves sentenced

The two men who pulled off one of the world’s biggest museum heists could go to prison for a little more than six years

Eugen Darie (left) and Radu Dogaru leave a Bucharest court in August

Two men involved in one of the world’s biggest art thefts were sentenced to six years and eight months in prison on Tuesday. The gang’s ringleader Radu Dogaru and his accomplice Eugen Darie, both from Romania, had pleaded guilty to stealing the seven paintings from the Kunsthal Rotterdam earlier this year. Daire’s lawyer Maria Vasii told Reuters that she is planning to file an appeal on the decision within the next ten days as a matter of procedure, although she said the sentence was the “correct decision”. “I expect prosecutors to also appeal today’s ruling and ask for harsher punishment,” she said.

The theft took place in October last year when the gang entered the Rotterdam museum through a rear emergency exit, fleeing with the paintings within minutes. Romanian experts believe that three of the paintings were destroyed by fire after remains from oil paintings and nails from frames were found in ashes at Dogaru’s house. The trial will continue on 3 December for four other defendants including Dogaru’s mother, who is accused of destroying the art, though authorities are still not sure what actually happened to the works.

The seven paintings, whose location remains unknown, include Picasso’s Tête d'Arlequin, Matisse’s La liseuse en blanc et jaune, Monet’s Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Brige, London, Gauguin’s Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte, Meijer De Haan’s Autoportrait and Lucian Freud’s Woman with Eyes Closed.

Meanwhile, in Greece, seven men were sentenced today for their involvement in the February 2012 robbery of nearly 80 antiquities from a museum in Olympia. Three men who were arrested by police in November last year for trying to sell a Bronze Age gold ring were given seven-year prison terms, while the other suspects, two Greeks and two Bulgarians, were given shorter sentences.

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