Two men have been arrested in Athens on suspicion of blackmailing an art gallery owner over the return of three paintings that were stolen from her in March, police said yesterday.
Officers arrested a 50-year-old man, suspected of stealing the paintings from the gallery in the northern suburb of Kifissia, and a 65-year-old art dealer who contacted the gallery owner and offered to return the paintings for a finder’s fee of 10,000 euros.
The paintings, “Cyclist Wearing a Tie” by Alekos Fasianos and two works by Dimitris Mitaras titled “The Girl,” were worth some 60,000 euros in total.
The gallery owner informed the police and a sting operation was mounted. The three paintings have been returned to the gallery and police found another 17 paintings in the possession of the two suspects.
Theft of paintings worth £40,000
Two paintings by a leading Welsh artist which are together worth £40,000 have been stolen from a private art collection in the south of England.
Metropolitan Police are investigating and auction houses have been alerted.
"We are not certain when they were taken, but the police were alerted on Tuesday, after the discovery was made," said Mr Povey.
"A piece of 17th Century French furniture was also taken."
Minotaur and Hermaphrodite, painted in 1996, is valued at £16,500 and was purchased by the owner in 1999. The second painting to be taken, Rehearsal, dates from 2003 and was commissioned by its owner. It is valued at £24,000.
"It's a great shame. Minotaur and Hermaphrodite was a great favourite of the owner and was due to be hung in his personal study in the mansion," said Mr Povey, who divides his time between north Wales and America.
"Unfortunately, if they went into a private collection - there's very little chance of finding them," he said.
Mr Povey, who rose to fame in the 1970s for the many multi-storey murals which he painted in Wales, England and the Middle East, said the Metropolitan Police were investigating.
He also said the art department of Interpol had opened a file on the case, and Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonhams were watching in the hope of stopping the art thieves if they attempted to auction the paintings.