Cezanne masterpiece believed recovered by Serbian police

12 April 2012

Three suspects arrested after discovery of painting thought to be Boy in a Red Waistcoat, stolen at gunpoint in 2008 in Zurich.

Police in Serbia believe they have recovered an impressionist masterpiece by Paul Cezanne worth at least £68m that was stolen at gunpoint in one of the world's biggest art heists four years ago, a police official has said.

"We believe the painting is Cezanne's Boy in a Red Waistcoat and three suspects were detained in connection with that," said a police official.

"Experts in Serbia and abroad are trying to ascertain whether the painting is an original. This painting is worth tens of millions of euros," the official added.

The canvas was one of four paintings stolen from a Swiss art gallery in 2008 by a trio of masked robbers who burst in just before closing time and told staff to lay on the floor.

The paintings were reportedly worth over £100m at the time and the heist was the biggest art theft in Swiss history and one of the largest in the world. The painting was stolen in 2008 from the Emil Georg Bührle gallery in Zurich, a private collection founded by a second world war arms dealer and entrepreneur.

Two of the stolen canvasses, one by Claude Monet and the other by Vincent van Gogh, were recovered days later abandoned in a car, but the other two – the Cezanne and a painting by Edgar Degas, have been missing for the last four years.

Cezanne's Boy in a Red Waistcoat is thought to have been painted around 1888 and depicts a boy in traditional Italian dress – a red waistcoat, a blue handkerchief and a blue belt. Three other versions of the painting are in museums in the United States.

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