Greece said yesterday it had recovered a Picasso painting personally donated by a Spanish teacher to the Greek people, almost a decade after it was stolen along with two other works of art in a daring robbery at the National Gallery.
“The head of a woman”, donated by Pablo Picasso to Greece in 1949, was recovered in Keratea, a rural area about 45 kilometers (28 miles) southeast of Athens, officials said at a news conference.
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“Today is a special day, (a day) of great joy and excitement,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni told reporters.
Mentoni said the painting would be “impossible” to sell as it had a personal inscription by Picasso on the back – “For the Greek people, a tribute from Picasso”.
The artist had given Cubist painting to the Greek state in recognition of the country’s resistance to Nazi Germany during a painful occupation of 1941-44.
“This painting is of special importance and emotional value to the Greek people, as it was personally dedicated by the great painter to the Greek people for their struggle against the fascist and Nazi forces,” he said.
Another painting stolen on the same slope was also found in January 2012, “Stammer Windmill” by Dutch painter Piet Mondrian.
The courtyard of 2012 at the National Gallery, the largest collection of works of art in Greece, lasted only seven minutes.
A sketch by 16th-century Italian artist Guglielmo Caccia, better known as Moncalvo, was also stolen in the same robbery. However, state television reported that it had been damaged on the edge and was rejected.
The theft, at the height of the Greek debt crisis, was followed a few months later by another high-profile robbery of nearly 80 archeological artifacts from a museum in Olympia dedicated to the ancient Olympic Games.
The items were recovered several months later.