But is it art? Pranksters plant missing ‘Picasso’ in Romania

Stolen paintings from the Rotterdam Kunsthal Museum is presented during a press conference at the National History Museum of Romania in Bucharest in this August 2013 photo, which includes Picasso’s ‘Harlequin Head.’ (AFP)
Updated 19 November 2018
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But is it art? Pranksters plant missing ‘Picasso’ in Romania

  • Writer was the victim of a ‘performance’ by two Belgian directors in Antwerp
  • Supposed tip-off was part of a project called ‘True Copy’ dedicated to the notorious Dutch forger Geert Jan Jansen

THE HAGUE: A writer who thought she had found a painting by Pablo Picasso stolen in an infamous art heist six years ago said Sunday she was the victim of a “publicity stunt,” Dutch media reported.
Picasso’s “Harlequin Head” was one of seven celebrated paintings snatched from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam in 2012 during a daring robbery local media dubbed “the theft of the century.”
The artworks by Picasso, Monet, Gauguin, Matisse and Lucian Freud have not been seen since.
But Dutch writer Mira Feticu, who wrote a novel based on the brazen heist, thought she had uncovered the piece after she was sent an anonymous letter around 10 days ago “with instructions regarding the place where the painting was hidden” in Romania.
Feticu, of Romanian origin, said the tip-off led her to a forest in the east of the country where she dug up an artwork wrapped in plastic.
Romanian authorities, who were handed the canvas on Saturday night, said that it “might be” Picasso’s painting, which is estimated to be worth €800,000 ($915,000).
However, on Sunday night Feticu told the Dutch public broadcaster 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’,” Bart Baele and Yves Degryse wrote on their website.
Their production company “currently wishes to abstain from any comment” because it first wants to speak to Feticu, the statement said.
“We will be back with more details on this issue within the next few days.”
Four Romanians were jailed in 2014 for the heist and ordered to pay €18 million ($20.5 million at today’s rates) to the work’s insurers.
One of the group, Olga Dogaru, told investigators she had burned the paintings in her stove in the sleepy village of Carcaliu to protect her son, Radu, when he could not sell them. She later retracted the statement.
Investigators have previously said the paintings were destroyed after the thieves failed to find a buyer.
Specialists from Romania’s museum of natural history examined ashes from a stove in Dogaru’s home and found traces of at least three oil paintings, based on lead- and zinc-based pigments in blue, yellow, red and green that are no longer used, director Ernest Oberlaender-Tarnoveanu said.
The thieves had slipped into the Dutch museum during the night of October 15-16, 2012 and got away with the works which despite their value were not protected by alarms.


Avengers assemble for final battle in ‘Endgame’

Updated 24 April 2019
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Avengers assemble for final battle in ‘Endgame’

  • “Avengers: Endgame” is the final installment of a wildly ambitious 22-film arc featuring the beloved superheroes of the Marvel universe
  • Pundits are predicting a debut weekend that could break records with the first billion-dollar opening in history

LOS ANGELES: After nearly two dozen films and billions of dollars in ticket sales around the globe, the Avengers are gearing up for a final time — and their last adventure could shatter all box office records.
“Avengers: Endgame” is the final installment of a wildly ambitious 22-film arc featuring the beloved superheroes of the Marvel universe, many of them the creations of late comic book legend Stan Lee.
It hits theaters this week — parts of Asia and Europe get the first view of the three-hour epic on Wednesday, and it gets its wide release in the US and Canada on Friday. Pundits are predicting a debut weekend that could break records with the first billion-dollar opening in history.
That would easily beat out the previous record holder, “Avengers: Infinity War,” the first part of the “Infinity Saga” — as it was dubbed by Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige, who has produced every single movie in the franchise — which opened in 2018 with $640.5 million.
After Monday’s star-studded world premiere in Hollywood, the six original Avengers celebrated the end of the road Tuesday at the iconic TCL Chinese Theatre.
Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) assembled for a final time with Feige at the TCL Chinese Theatre, where they signed blocks of cement and marked them with handprints.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” Ruffalo — who attempted a handstand while waiting for the cement to set — said of the 10-year project.
The 21 preceding films have earned about $19 billion globally, and though “Endgame” marks the end of the current narrative arc, Marvel Studios is far from through.

Even as they mark the end of what Johansson called a “wonderful” experience, Marvel Studios has already announced several new projects: in addition to sequels for “Spider-Man,” “Black Panther” and “Doctor Strange,” there will also be “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3,” “The Eternals” and “Black Widow,” the second Marvel universe film to give a female character solo top billing.
“The fun thing about an ending is that you eventually get to do a new beginning,” Feige told AFP.
“So yes, there will be a new beginning, but right now, it’s about this combination of 22 movies. That’s what we’re most excited for.”
In preparation for the marvelous cinematic conclusion, “Endgame” directors Joe and Anthony Russo took to Twitter to post a letter to “the greatest fans in the world.”
“This is it,” they wrote. “This is the end. The end of an unprecedented narrative mosaic spanning eleven years and eleven franchises.”
They acknowledged the massive impact that the Avengers series has had on its fans, saying it was for “all of you who have been on this journey with us since the very beginning.”
Fans have been on the edge of their seats for the conclusion, and the cast has been notoriously tight-lipped during the press tour for fear of potential spoilers.
But someone couldn’t wait: on Sunday, five minutes of “Endgame” footage containing crucial plot points from the finale were anonymously posted online, prompting the Russo brothers’ letter.
The brothers concluded their message with an appeal: not to spoil the end of the movie.
“Remember,” the Russo brothers said, “Thanos still demands your silence. #DontSpoilTheEndgame.”