Stolen Cuban art works in Miami, part of Havana museum heist?

Fri Feb 28, 2014 5:46pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By David Adams and David Quinones

MIAMI (Reuters) - Almost 100 Cuban art works have apparently been stolen from the country's national art museum, and some are turning up in Miami, according to one of the city's leading gallery owners.

Art dealer Ramon Cernuda, a prominent collector of Cuban art who in the past has identified stolen pieces, said he has uncovered 11 paintings in Miami that belong to Havana's National Museum of Fine Arts, believed to be part of a larger trove of purloined pieces.

"The museum has informed me that at this moment they have identified 95 stolen paintings, and they have not finished the inventory," he told Reuters on Friday.

Cernuda said his calls to the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana prompted an investigation there three weeks ago, when officials confirmed more works are missing.

Cuban officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Art works in Havana have periodically gone missing, but this would appear to be the largest heist the museum has experienced.

In 1995, the Cintas Foundation, a nonprofit group supporting the arts, sued Sotheby's in Spain, contending that it illegally sold two pieces by Spanish master Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida that the foundation said it owned and were supposedly in the safekeeping of a Havana museum.

Cintas lost the case, but it led to a flood of accusations of other missing museum art works that had been sold on the international market, possibly with the approval of the Cuban government.   Continued...