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.


Two Arab hopefuls make it to the Miss Universe competition

Updated 10 December 2018
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Two Arab hopefuls make it to the Miss Universe competition

  • The competition will be held in Thailand on Dec. 16
  • Miss ­Lebanon and Miss Egypt are the only Arab contestants at the 67th edition of Miss Universe

DUBAI: Miss Lebanon and Miss Egypt are set to represent the Middle East at Dec. 16’s Miss Universe competition in Bangkok, Thailand.

Miss ­Lebanon, Maya Reaidy, and Miss Egypt, Nariman Khaled, are the only Arab contestants at the 67th edition of Miss Universe, which will see 93 contestants smile, wave, sashay and generally delight the crowd next week.

The show is set to be hosted by US comedian Steve Harvey, who in 2016 made international headlines in a hilarious, cringe-worthy slip-up where he announced the wrong winner.

Harvey will be joined — perhaps saved — on stage by US model Ashley Graham.

Reaidy is a pharmacy student at the Lebanese American University, while Khaled is studying business information systems in Egypt.