Picasso masterpiece, stolen from a yacht in 1999, turns up in Amsterdam


A Picasso stolen from the yacht of Saudi businessman Abdul Mohsen Addulmalik al-Sheikh in 1999 and which had been used as collateral by criminals has been tracked down by Dutch stolen art detective Arthur Brand. Buste de Femme, a portrait of Picasso’s lover Dora Maar, painted just a year after Guerníca in 1938, was a personal favourite of the artist who didn’t sign because it was never meant to be sold. It ended up at the Pace Gallery in New York after his death where the sheik bought it for $4m. It is now worth an estimated $25m. In an interview with the Volkskrant Brand, whose most recent exploit was finding two stolen Spanish Visigoth carvings , said he started following up leads concerning ‘a ship and a Picasso’ in 2015 but they didn’t come to anything. Acting on a tip off from one of his informers from the criminal circuit, Brand came into contact with a ‘Quote500’ businessman, who told him he had had the painting in his possession as a result of a deal with ‘certain people’ with an accompanying ‘cock and bull story’ but has since ‘gotten rid of it’. Brand says people he spoke to said the painting has been used as collateral in the Dutch criminal circuit since 2002.  Contacts later told Brand the painting was hanging on the wall of another businessman who also wanted it gone. ‘They daren’t go to the police. How are they going to explain the situation? They are afraid they may be accused of theft. And then they come to me,’ Brand told the paper. Not a crime In the event the businessman turned the painting over on the reassurance that the statute of limitations had passed on the theft and that a voluntary return would be a civil matter, not a crime. The painting, which, uninsured, spent a night on the wall of Brand’s Amsterdam flat, is still in good shape. ‘Another two years and it would have been a different story. They way is was used, as collateral in deals means it was stored in damp cellars and trunks of cars. The colours would have faded and the canvas might break up. But we were just in time,' Brand said. Brand told the paper he had tried to contact the owner of the painting but had heard nothing so far. ‘It’s a pity because it’s a bit of a miracle that it turned up at all. I don’t think the sheik ever expected to clap eyes on it again.’ The painting is now being held by an insurance company, which will decide what to do next.  More >



Men in court for assaulting Prague waiter

Two brothers from The Hague are appearing in court in Prague on Monday accused of attempting to kill a waiter in the Czech capital. Arash and Armin N. have been held in custody since the incident a year ago, which left the victim in hospital for three weeks. The brothers face up to 18 years in jail if convicted of attempted murder. The waiter was reportedly attacked when he asked a stag party group to leave a pavement terrace where they were drinking beer. Seven people were arrested, three of whom were given suspended sentences and banned from returning to the Czech Republic for five years. Two others were acquitted after it became clear from video footage that they had tried to break up the group.   More >



Decorated soldier 'headbutted policeman'

A decorated Dutch soldier has been suspended from duties for allegedly headbutting a policeman. The NOS reported on Friday that defence minister Ank Bijleveld said that physical violence against agents of the state would not be tolerated. Marco Kroon, who had been awarded the Netherlands’ highest honour for bravery in 2009, is being investigated for abusive and insulting behaviour during the last carnival Sunday in Den Bosch. Bijleveld said, however, that he would not lose his Militaire Willems-Orde award for bravery in Afghanistan, for now. Kroon has previously been acquitted of a charge of possessing drugs and weapons, and last year reported a breach of protocol during a secret mission in Afghanistan when he said he had been kidnapped and then found and killed one of his kidnappers.  More >



Mitch Henriquez appeal hearing begins

Statue of justice. Appeal court judges have been asked to uphold six-month suspended sentences against two police officers who were held responsible for the death of Aruban national Mitch Henriquez. The 42-year-old died a day after being pinned to the ground by five officers as he left a concert at the Zuiderpark in The Hague in July 2015. The city's district court ruled in December 2017 that the choke hold used during his arrest was likely to have contributed to his death and found the two officers guilty of assault. The officers appealed against their conviction, but at the appeal court in The Hague on Monday prosecutors said they had gone 'way beyond the limit'. 'The level of force used during the arrest was unjustified,' said the advocate-general for the prosecution. The original trial found that the prolonged use of the choke hold by one of the officers and the use of pepper spray by the other as he punched Henriquez in the face were unlawful. Officers said they had reacted to a claim by Henriquez that he was carrying a gun. All five officers involved in the arrest were internally disciplined by the police but none has been dismissed. The prosecution says the two who were convicted should be barred from working as police officers for two years. The appeal hearing is due to continue until next week and the court is expected to give its verdict in June.  More >



12 arrested in Telegraaf attack probe

Dutch police have raided private homes and business premises in Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague and arrested 12 people in their search for the people behind last year's attack on the Telegraaf newspaper offices, the paper said on Monday. The 12 men who have been arrested are aged 20 to 27 and also face charges of stealing and fencing fast cars used in several 'serious crimes', the paper said. No one was injured in the attack on the newspaper's offices in Amsterdam last June, in which a van drove into the building at around 4am and then burst into flames. Police suspect the attack was the work of the Netherlands' most wanted criminal, Ridouan Taghi, who is also thought to be behind several gangland killings. The public prosecution department has issued a reward of €100,000 for information leading to Taghi's arrest.  More >


Dutch firm suspected money laundering scam

Three former officials of a company from West-Betuwe have been arrested for suspected international money laundering involving $1.2bn. The Dutch public prosecution announced on Friday that that it believes they used the company to launder the money for an Indian company involved in constructing a gas pipeline. According to the press release, the Dutch company acted as the purchasing body to buy international materials and services. But it is suspected of doubling up on invoices to declare the costs twice and then skimming the profits through the Dutch company with fake insurance contracts. The men will appear before a court in Rotterdam today.  More >