Greek police recover stolen Picasso and Mondrian paintings taken in 2012 gallery heist

Police found the two stolen artworks hidden at a gorge in Athens and have arrested a Greek man

Piet Mondrian's 'Mill' from 1905, which has been recovered. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

Greek police have recovered a painting by Pablo Picasso that was stolen from Greece’s National Gallery in Athens nine years ago.

In January 2012, thieves broke into the gallery and snatched Picasso's 1939 work Woman's Head, which was donated to the institution by the artist in 1949.

It features a woman in Picasso’s Cubist style and was given to the National Gallery as a gift to recognise the Greek people's resistance to Nazi Germany.

Thieves also stole a work by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian titled Mill that dates back to 1905.

They also took a sketch of a religious scene by Italian painter Guglielmo Caccia, which was donated to the gallery in 1907.

To mislead security guards, the thieves had activated the gallery’s alarm system several times before breaking into the building at around 4.30am. The guard turned off the alarm only to later spot one of the thieves through the motion detector.

Before escaping, the thief dropped another 1905 Mondrian painting.

“It all happened in seven minutes,” said a police official, who declined to be named, at the time.

Thieves had stripped the paintings of their frames before carrying them out.

On Monday, police found the two Picasso and Mondrian artworks hidden at a gorge in the wider Athens area and arrested a Greek man, said a police official on condition of anonymity.

Greek authorities are due to make official statements on the case on Tuesday.