Romanian police have arrested one Romanian and two Hungarian nationals who were selling stolen artwork directly from their hotel room in Brasov. Police recovered several paintings and a large number of ancient objects worth several million Euros which had been stolen from a private collection in Vienna, Austria in September 2008.
The use of INTERPOL’s ASF Works of Art database and close co-operation with the Austrian police enabled the identification of a 15th century painting of the Virgin with the Child by Matteo di Giovanni di Bartoli called “Matteo di Siena”, a painting by Austrian artist Ferdinand Georg Waldmueller entitled “The stubborn schoolboy” and two paintings of fluvial landscapes by his compatriot Johann von Dallinger, both 19th century, as well as an 18th century Boulle clock.
The investigations into the thefts, which also included more clocks, glass and silverware, are still ongoing.
Since stolen cultural goods are often quickly taken out of the country by criminals, this case shows the value of notifying the INTERPOL General Secretariat in the event of an art theft and registering significant works of art in INTERPOL’s database, so police in other countries can be alerted. The database currently includes some 33,000 objects and by end of the year, police agencies worldwide will have conducted over 7, 000 remote queries.