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January 18, 2024

Thursday, January 18, 2024 - ,,,, No comments

Breakthrough in Decade-Long Art Heist: Stolen Chagall and Picasso Paintings Recovered in Antwerp Raid

In a stunning turn of events, two valuable paintings, L’homme en prière by Marc Chagall and a version of Tête by Pablo Picasso, stolen from a Tel Aviv villa in February 2010, have been recovered after a decade-long investigation. The breakthrough came on January 10, 2024, when police in Namur, Belgium, executed searches at the residence of a 68-year-old Israeli luxury watch dealer, known only as "Daniel Z."

The heist, which took place in February 2010 at a villa owned by the Herzikovich family of art collectors, saw the thieves make off with the Chagall and Picasso masterpieces valued at $900,000 (£710,000). In addition to the paintings, jewelry worth $680,000 was stolen from a safe, with the burglars showing a selective focus by bypassing other artworks displayed in the home.

The stolen paintings eventually made their way to Europe, specifically an Antwerp neighborhood, where they remained hidden for several years.

The breakthrough in the investigation occurred at the end of 2022 when law enforcement officers in Namur received a tip-off about an individual attempting to sell the stolen Chagall and Picasso works. A thorough investigation led to the identification of a suspect, prompting months of surveillance and intelligence gathering.

By 2023, Belgian law enforcement confirmed that the suspect was indeed in possession of the stolen paintings and likely stored them at his residence or with an associate. Subsequent checks and resources implemented in 2023 pointed to the suspect's potential possession of the artworks.

On January 10, 2024, police executed a search at the home of "Daniel Z" at the public prosecutor's request. While a significant amount of money was discovered, the two stolen paintings were not found. The suspect confessed to possessing the artworks but refused to disclose their location.

Continuing with leads in the investigation, authorities in Antwerp, conducted a search of a building purportedly linked to past cases of stolen paintings which resulted in the recovery of the Chagall and Picasso masterpieces. Stored in wooden boxes with screwed lids, the artworks were found undamaged and still in their original frames.

According to The Times, Alexander Besedin, the building's caretaker, revealed, "Those wooden boxes were untouched for four or five years, without me really paying attention to them. It was a favor to someone I considered a friend. When I asked him at the time what was in it, he said it was family paintings. They were nailed shut, so I couldn’t see into them."

The main suspect, described as a 68-year-old Israeli luxury watch dealer, has been charged with receiving the two stolen paintings and has been placed under arrest.