ATHENS — When paintings by Picasso and Mondrian and a sketch by the Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia went lacking from the National Gallery in Athens in 2012, it was the beginning of a thriller that lasted for almost a ten years.
That mystery ended this week when the will work by Picasso and Mondrian have been recovered unscathed from a ravine in a forest around Porto Rafti, a city east of Athens.
In custody is not a gang of robbers who planned a Hollywood-type heist, but a 49-year-outdated construction employee, with the Twitter identify ArtFreak, who was arrested on Monday.
The theft appears to have been years in the creating as an obsession with artwork morphed into something prison. The suspect, who was remanded to police custody following showing prior to an investigating justice of the peace on Thursday, is documented to have explained to the law enforcement that he had “always been fascinated in artwork.”
Comments that the suspect built to investigators have been leaked in the Greek news media, and the suspect’s law firm, Sakis Kehagioglu, verified that what has been revealed is what his customer told the police. The suspect’s identify has not still been introduced by the authorities.
The suspect detailed his daring, one-person crack-in, telling the police, “In 2012 I entered the Nationwide Gallery and bought 3 paintings,” in accordance to the leaked remarks. He stated he “deeply” regretted his actions, which weighed on his conscience and still left him sleepless.
The three artworks ended up Picasso’s “Head of a Woman,” a 1939 get the job done that the Spanish learn later dedicated to the Greek persons for their resistance to the Nazis “Stammer Windmill,” a 1905 perform by the Dutch painter Mondrian and a sketch by the 16th-century Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia. The Caccia sketch was broken all through the theft and discarded, the suspect instructed the law enforcement.
Just before that, the suspect had held the paintings at the residence of a relative that he frequently frequented to search at them, Mr. Kehagioglu, his attorney reported.
“He was an art lover, he preferred to see the paintings, to enjoy them,” Mr. Kehagioglu mentioned, including that he would request leniency for his customer, who he reported confronted five to 10 years in jail if convicted of the theft.
Greek news media reported promises on Wednesday and Thursday from artwork historians in the Netherlands and Italy that attempts experienced been made to market the functions.
Mr. Kehagioglu claimed his customer had created no effort to provide the will work.
The suspect reportedly informed the police that he experienced put in months creating “constant visits” to the Countrywide Gallery to familiarize himself with the performs and house “until I considered that just one of them could turn out to be mine.”
“These thoughts tormented me for about two yrs and led me to make the most important slip-up of my lifetime,” he was mentioned to have admitted.
For the six months just before the theft, the suspect stated he had frequented the gallery additional than 50 instances, studying not only the works and the space, but also the habits of the guards and the place of windows and cameras.
“I knew all the guards’ patterns, when they modified shifts, who smoked, who went out in the back garden,” he stated in the leaked reviews. “And that’s how I made the decision to do the theft,” he extra. “I hadn’t resolved which work I would take, but just that I desired one.”
To get ready for the theft, he reported he had acquired black outfits and boots and readied some of his construction get the job done tools — a hammer, a chisel and a knife. The day of the theft — Sunday, Jan. 8, 2012 — was picked out at random. He took the metro into city, changed outfits in a park next to the gallery and waited until finally the museum’s 9 p.m. closing time, prior to obtaining a balcony with unsecured doorways. When he moved a door and a beep sounded, he explained, he reconsidered his system of motion, went for a speedy stroll and smoked quite a few cigarettes — the butts of which he said he gathered in a bag — just before returning to test again.
“That’s when I made the decision that irritating the safety guard was the best way to do the theft, by producing him consider that there was a specialized difficulty in the alarm zones,” the suspect told the police. So he opened and shut the doorway numerous occasions to confuse the guards. But it was not right until 4 o’clock the adhering to early morning that he entered the gallery, he said, describing in detail the sluggish approach of sneaking and crawling via the rooms. His account suggests he came across his loot pretty much by incident.
“I received up and found myself in entrance of the portray by Picasso,” he reported, incorporating that he taken off it from the wall and then from its frame ahead of doing the exact same with the Mondrian and the Caccia.
That procedure took 5 to seven minutes, he explained.
Mr. Kehagioglu, the attorney, claimed that his customer was no typical thief and that his remorse had led to the paintings’ safe and sound return. “There are financial institution robbers that steal millions and hardly ever give it back again,” he mentioned. “He showed genuine regret.”