A Dutchman has claimed to have unearthed a stolen Picasso after it had been missing for 20 years.
Arthur Brand, also known as the “Indiana Jones of the art world,” said he began looking for the missing Buste de Femme in 2015 after he heard that a Picasso had been stolen from a boat, reported BBC News.
The painting was reportedly taken from a yacht belonging to Saudi Sheikh Abdul Mohsen Abdulmalik Al-Sheikh in 1999 while it was being remodeled in Antibes.
The painting was often used on the black market, “as collateral, popping up in a drug deal here, four years later in an arms deal there,” Brand reportedly told the AFP news agency.
The art sleuth told Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that many people in the art world had assumed the painting had been destroyed because thieves often have a difficult time selling stolen art.
After Brand heard about the theft, he began letting people know he was looking for the famous portrait, and in early March, he got a lead. Two representatives of a Dutch businessman contacted Brand, explaining that the man had ended up with the painting thinking it was part of a legitimate deal, AFP reported.
Authorities in France and the Netherlands have said that they will not prosecute the businessman.
On recovering the painting, Brand said he knew it was “the real thing” as soon as he touched it.
“You know it’s a Picasso because there is some magic coming off it,” he said, according to The Associated Press.
Breaking: I just recovered the stolen 'Dora Maar' by Picasso. Painted in 1938 and stolen in 1999 in Antibes France. A great day for art-lovers, like me! pic.twitter.com/A0KciDJuza
— Arthur Brand (@brand_arthur) March 26, 2019
Dora Maar, who was born Henriette Theodora Markovitch, was a French photographer and painter born in 1907. She was Picasso’s companion from 1936 to 1943. Picasso painted the portrait in 1938, and it reportedly stayed in his home until he died in 1972. The artwork is believed to be worth $28 million.
The fate of the masterpiece is now in the hands of an unnamed insurance company, which will decide what to do with it.
This is not the first time Brand has recovered stolen artwork. In 2016, he was able to locate a missing Salvador Dali painting. He also managed to get his hands on two bronze horse sculptures commissioned by Adolf Hitler that were believed to have been destroyed in World War II, The Independent reported.
Brand, however, does not consider himself any kind of hero. He is in the business of advising art collectors. However, that changed after he unintentionally invested in forgeries in 2002. After that experience, he became involved with authorities and started helping them look for forgeries and smugglers.