“Dora Maar” Picasso became the new trophy of “Indiana Jones of the art world”


“Portrait of Dora Maar” by Pablo Picasso, stolen 20 years ago from a sheikh’s yacht on the Cote d’Azur, found by art detective Arthur Brand

 Portrait of Dora Maar (1938) by Pablo Picasso and Arthur Brand. Photo: AFP / Eastnews

The canvas “Bust of a Woman” (“Portrait of Dora Maar”) in 1938 worth € 25 million was found by a Dutch art detective Arthur Brand in a four-year investigation. “I unpacked the picture and hung it on the wall for the night,” he told AFP. “So for one day, my house became one of the most expensive in Amsterdam.”

The story began in 1999 when Pablo Picasso’s painting was stolen from the yacht of a billionaire from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Moshen Abdulmalik al-Sheikh, who was under repair on the Cote d’Azur. The abduction of the canvas, which at that time was estimated at € 7 million, baffled the French police and forced collectors to monitor security on their yachts more closely. In 2015, Arthur Brand was first rumored that a certain “Picasso painting stolen from a yacht” was circulating in the criminal circles of the Netherlands. But, as clarifies the art-detective, “at that time I did not know what kind of work in question.” It turned out that the work went from hand to hand for many years and was often used as collateral, emerging from a weapons transaction or selling drugs.

The brand began to spread information in the right circles about what the “Bust of a Woman” was looking for, and here some people contacted him and brought a picture wrapped in cloth and garbage bags directly to his home. “Two representatives of a Dutch businessman contacted me and said that the picture was with their client,” an art detective AFP told the details of this story. – He was absolutely confused. He thought he had acquired Picasso by legal means. It turned out that the transaction was legal, but the method of payment was not. ” The detective attracted the Dutch and French police, where they had already managed to close the case, and they promised that they would not pursue the current owner. “From the moment of the abduction, the picture passed from hand to hand at least ten times,” says Brand.

Now “Woman’s Bust” is in the insurance company, which is to decide its fate.

Detective, art historian Arthur Brand – a famous person. He has already been nicknamed “Indiana Jones of the Art World”. In 2018, he returned to Cyprus a Byzantine mosaic depicting St. Mark, stolen from the church in 1974. Prior to that, in 2015, he discovered “the horses of Hitler” – two bronze sculptures of the Nazi sculptor’s horses, Joseph Torak, who were standing in front of the Reichstag and, as was thought before, died during the Battle of Berlin. Brand for several years posing as a collector and was able to get on the trail of sculptures in Dallas. A book telling this story was recently published. The list of victories of the detective also includes the return of the painting “The Adolescence” by Salvador Dali, “The Musician” by Tamara de Lempicki, several paintings stolen from the Dutch city of Horn. Arthur Brand has already starred in the role of himself in the documentary film “Iconoclast”, which tells about crimes in the field of art. Obviously, a feature film about him is not far off.