Art Sleuth Known As The 'Indiana Jones Of The Art World' Recovers Stolen Picasso Painting That Had Been Missing Since 1999
NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images

A Dutch art detective has tracked down a stolen Picasso painting worth nearly $30 million. This was the culmination of a nearly four year long investigation.

Arthur Brand, an art crimes investigator known as "Indiana Jones of the Art World" turned the painting into an insurance company earlier this month.



The portrait titled "Portrait of Dora Maar", was stolen from a Saudi sheikh's yacht in 1999. For two decades the stolen painting was passed around in the criminal underworld, used as collateral for drug and arms deals.

This is starting to sound like a movie.






In 2015, Brand received word that the painting was in the Netherlands, though he wasn't sure which one at the time.

He spent his time pinning down the masterpiece until earlier this month:

Brand said:

"Two representatives of a Dutch businessman contacted me, saying their client had the painting. He was at his wits' end."

The unnamed businessman received the painting as payment for a deal. After receiving it, and finding out it was stolen, he wasn't sure what to do.

This is where Brand comes in. He contacted the Dutch and French authorities to arrange for the return of the painting, in exchange for the businessman's immunity.

Brand was only too aware of the painting's habit of disappearing into criminal deals, and felt this was his only chance.

"I told the intermediaries, it's now or never, because the painting is probably in a very bad state... We have to act as soon as we can."

You have to wonder how he had the willpower to give the painting back.






Shortly after that, Brand received the painting from the representatives. After unwrapping it, he hung it on his wall for a night.

"I hung the Picasso on my wall for a night, thereby making my apartment one of the most expensive in Amsterdam for a day."

The following day, the painting was verified for authenticity, and then turned over to retired British detective, Dick Ellis.

Ellis is famous as the founder of Scotland Yard's art and antiquities squad, and in his retirement, represents an unnamed insurance company. Ellis himself has recovered famous artworks such as Edvard Munch's "The Scream".

Brand and Ellis have both confirmed that the painting is in the hands of the insurance company who will decide what to do next.

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