Missing 'Picasso' thought found in Romania a hoax: Report

Missing 'Picasso' thought found in Romania a hoax: Report
Empty spot on the marks place where stolen Henri Matisse painting was in Rotterdam's Kunsthal art gallery in Netherlands.
PHOTO: Reuters

A writer who thought she had found a masterpiece by Pablo Picasso stolen in an infamous art heist six years ago said Sunday she was the victim of a "publicity stunt", the NOS Dutch public newscaster reported.

Picasso's "Harlequin Head" was one of seven celebrated paintings stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam, The Netherlands in 2012 during a daring robbery local media dubbed "the theft of the century".

The artworks have not been seen since.

Around 10 days ago, Mira Feticu, a Dutch writer of Romanian origin who wrote a novel based on the heist, was sent an anonymous letter.

"I received a letter in Romanian with instructions regarding the place where the painting was hidden," she told AFP.

The instructions led her to a forest in eastern Romania where she dug up an artwork.

Romanian authorities, who received the canvas on Saturday night, said that it "might be" Picasso's painting, which is estimated to be worth 800,000 euros (S$1.25 million). Experts were checking whether it was authentic.

However on Sunday night Feticu told NOS that she was the victim of a performance by two Belgian directors in Antwerp.

Feticu said she received an email from the Belgian duo explaining that the letter was part of a project called "True Copy" dedicated to the notorious Dutch forger Geert Jan Jansen, whose fakes flooded the art collections of Europe and beyond until he was caught in 1994.

"Part of this performance was prepared in silence in the course of the past few months, with a view to bringing back Picasso's 'Tete d'Arlequin'," the directors wrote on their website.

Their production company "currently wishes to abstain from any comment" because it first wants to speak Fetuci, the statement said.

"We will be back with more details on this issue within the next few days."

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