A Romanian woman has reportedly burned several pieces of stolen art work, valued at more than $143 million dollars, in an attempt to destroy evidence and save her son from potential jail time.
The decision to incinerate the seven masterpieces, which included works from Pablo Picasso and Claude Monet, stemmed from a fear that if it was recovered by authorities, the pieces would be used as evidence against her son, alleged art thief Radu Doragu, Miami Newsday reported.
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Doragu, along with five cohorts, allegedly stole the work from the Netherland's Kunsthal Rotterdam Museum last October in a 90-second dawn raid.
"After the arrest of my son in January 2013, I was very scared because I knew that what had happened was very serious," Dogaru's mother said, according to court documents. "I placed the suitcase containing the paintings in the stove. I put in some logs, slippers and rubber shoes and waited until they had completely burned."
Among the stolen and now destroyed works were Pablo Picasso's "Harlequin Head"; Henri Matisse's "Reading Girl" in White and Yellow; Claude Monet's "Waterloo Bridge," "London," and "Charing Cross Bridge," "London"; Paul Gauguin's "Girl in Front of Open Window," De Haan's "Self-Portrait" and Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed," The Guardian reported.
Twenty-five investigators were assigned to the case.
In May, investigators confirmed the fears of many when they began combing through the ashes inside Doragu's mother's home in search of whatever remained of the paintings, court documents state.
At the time of the heist it was believed that the thieves would attempt to ransom the pieces, considering they would have a difficult time find a legitimate buyer due to how well known the works are in the art community.
Security experts told The Guardian that the thieves likely targeted the Kunsthal Rotterdam Museum because of its close proximity to Rotterdam's port, one of the world's largest, which would allow them to move the paintings quickly.
Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas, the Kunsthal Rotterdam Museum is a "gem of a gallery", but a "nightmare to protect," one security expert told The Guardian.
The expert suggested the thieves had plotted the heist for several months before carrying it out.
Labeled the "theft of the century," the six Romanian suspects will stand trial in August.
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