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.


Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

A father had to pull his son from the jaws of a dingo after it had dragged the sleeping toddler from a camper van on Australia's popular Fraser Island. (Reuters)
Updated 22 April 2019
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Dingo drags sleeping toddler from bed on Australia's Fraser Island

  • Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory

SYDNEY: A dingo dragged a sleeping toddler from a camper van on a popular Australian holiday island late on Thursday, but his father awoke and pulled his 14-month-old son from the jaws of the dog-like dingo.
"The parents woke up to the baby screaming and chased after him and had to fight the dingoes off to take the 14-month-old boy away," paramedic Ben Du Toit told local media on Friday.
The boy suffered head and neck injuries in the attack on Fraser Island off the northeast coast and was taken to hospital.
Australia's dingo is a protected species on Fraser Island and are a popular attraction for camping tourists. The latest dingo attack was the third this year on Fraser Island.
In 1980 baby Azaria Chamberlain disappeared from a tent in a camping ground in Australia's outback, with her mother claiming she was taken by a dingo. The baby's body was never found, creating a mystery that captivated Australians for years and was made into a book and a film with Meryl Streep and Sam Neill.
Azaria's mother Lindy was jailed for three years over her daughter's death before later being cleared, but it wasn't until 2012 that a court ruled that a dingo killed Azaria.
Dingoes, introduced to Australia about 4,000 years ago, are protected in Queensland state's national parks, World Heritage areas, Aboriginal reserves and the Australian Capital Territory. Elsewhere, they are a declared pest species.
Dingoes hold a significant place in the spiritual and cultural practices of many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
Fraser Island's dingo population is estimated to be around 200, with packs of up to 30 dogs roaming the island, according to the Queensland Department of Environment and Science.
The department warns that generally dingoes go about their lives and stay clear of people. "From time to time, dingoes may come close and some encounters can turn to tragedy," a statement on the department's website warns. "Stay alert and stay calm."