Stolen Picasso Etching May Have Drug Connection

First Photo Exclusive – Valuable art is often used by Colombian drug dealers as Collateral

A valuable etching by Cubist painter Pablo Picasso, valued at $65,000, was stolen on Friday, from a museum in Popayan, western Colombia.The Museum press office alerted the press of the robbery yesterday. The untitled print, signed and numbered by the artist, dates from 1930 -1939. It was reported that it disappeared from the museum on Friday afternoon, minutes after the museum closed to the public. According to the museum’s director Oscar Hernandez,the work portrayed the Greek god of wine Dionysus, holding a drunken woman in his arms, with Pan playing his pipes off to the side. It is from Picasso’s Classical period and highly sought after by collectors. The print was last seen before two foreign nationals entered the gallery. The work had been donated to the museum in 2004 by the sculptor, Edgar Negret, a Popayan native. The valuable etching was not protected by electronic security and guards were preparing to go home after a long day. The Popayan Museum authorities are offering a $5,000 dollar reward for information that would lead to recovering the print.

Many Picassos have been stolen in the past and several have been recovered over the years years. It is difficult to sell a stolen work by the master on the open market, as most works are recorded. A 1904 Portrait of Suzanne Bloch by Picasso was stolen from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art in 2007 and two of his engravings were snatched from a branch of the Pinacoteca Museum in 2008. Valuable art is often used by drug dealers as Collateral. The works are recorded on the Arts loss register and the etching will be added to this international data-base. Meanwhile two paintings, also by Picasso that were stolen from a Swiss museum exhibition in 2008 have been uncovered in Belgrade, Serbia. The paintings titled Head of Horse and Glass and Pitcher had both belong to the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, Germany. The Swiss Government has requested that the paintings valued at $4.3 million £2.7m be returned.

Picasso was born October 25, 1881, Málaga, Spain and died April 8, 1973, Mougins, France. He was a Spanish expatriate painter, sculptor, printmaker, ceramicist, and stage designer, one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century and the creator (with Georges Braque and Juan Gris) of Cubism.The enormous body of Picasso’s work remains, his legacy a tribute to the vitality of the “disquieting” Spaniard with the “sombre piercing” eyes who superstitiously believed that work would keep him alive. For nearly 80 of his 91 years Picasso devoted himself to an artistic production that contributed significantly to and paralleled the whole development of modern art in the 20th century.

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