Stolen Picasso and Chagall Paintings Valued at $900,000 Were Found in a Basement in Antwerp. The works were stolen from an Israeli family’s home in 2010.

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Pablo Picasso, Tête (1970). Photo courtesy of Namur Parquet.

Police in Belgium have recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, stolen from an Israeli family in February 2010, after a “delicate and meticulous investigation.”

Federal Judicial Police in the city of Namur were informed that a Belgian resident was trying to sell Picasso’s Tête (1970) and Chagall’s L’homme en prière (1971) in 2022, local prosecutors with the Namur Parquet office said in a statement translated from French.

The suspect was not named by the Belgian prosecutors in their statement but was identified as “Daniel Z,” a 68-year-old Israeli luxury watch dealer, by The Guardian.

“These two works were stolen from an art collector’s private residence in Tel Aviv, Israel, in February 2010,” prosecutors said. “During this theft, jewelry with an estimated value of over $680,000 was also stolen. The estimated value of the two paintings at the time of the theft was $900,000.”

Police in Belgium have recovered two paintings by Pablo Picasso and Marc Chagall, stolen from an Israeli family in February 2010. Photo courtesy of Namur Parquet

The owners of the paintings were identified by The Guardian as a family with the last name  Herzikovic. Further details about the owners were not immediately known.

Belgian prosecutors said the Herzikovic home was equipped with a sophisticated, high-performance alarm system. Still, the thieves managed to neutralize it and enter the residence undetected. Nobody was home at the time of the break-in. Besides the family jewels, the thieves only took the paintings by Chagall and Picasso, leaving behind many other paintings displayed inside, prosecutors said.

Federal police spent several months tracking the suspect’s movements and habits, including activities he participated in and places he frequented, to verify that the paintings were in his possession.

Marc Chagall, L’homme en prière (1971). Photo courtesy of Namur Parquet.

Police raided the suspect’s home on January 10 and found a “large sum of money” but not the stolen art.  The suspect admitted at the time he possessed the paintings but refused to cooperate with police to tell them where they were stored, prosecutors said.

The suspect and his wife were both detained and questioned in a court hearing the next day, prosecutors said. He was charged with handling stolen goods and arrested at the end of the hearing.

Authorities made the “beautiful discovery” of the stolen works on January 12, the day after the court hearing, when investigators carried out another search in Antwerp. Prosecutors said the two paintings were found in a basement “properly packaged to prevent any deterioration” in two wooden crates with screwed-on lids. They were undamaged and still in their original frames.

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