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March 16, 2013

Kunsthal Rotterdam art heist: German prosecutor arrests middle-man for blackmail after attempt is allegedly made to sell back stolen paintings to Dutch owner Triton Foundation

Harlequin Head by Pablo Picasso
On the afternoon of Wednesday, March 13, German prosecutors arrested a 46-year-old German man for attempting to sell seven of the paintings stolen from the the Kunsthal Rotterdam on October 16 back to their Dutch owner, the Triton Foundation [David Rising and Toby Sterling reporting from Berlin and Amsterdam, respectively, for the Associated Press ("Police name man claiming to sell back Picasso, Monet in $100 million heist"].
Three Romanian men suspected of carrying out the heist were arrested Jan. 22 in Bucharest and remain in custody there. A 19-year-old Romanian woman was arrested in Rotterdam on March 4 on suspicion of assisting the thieves.
Police believe the works were brought shortly after the theft to a home in Rotterdam where the young woman was staying and removed from their frames.
The suspect has contacted two lawyers in Cologne to negotiate the return of the paintings back to the owner and has been arrested for blackmail. reports in "Romanians implicated in Kunsthal art heist to face trial at home" that the three men arrested for the theft will not be extradited to The Netherlands.
None of the works have been recovered and the mother of one of the defendants told a local Romanian broadcaster she had destroyed two to help her son [].
The suspects would prefer to avoid prison and Romania and have claimed that the paintings will never be seen again if their trial is not held in the Netherlands: "They have made this very clear," their lawyer said.

Here's another view of the  value of the stolen paintings.