Police find stolen Cezanne painting in Serbia
Four men arrested over the theft of masterpiece worth more than $100m, stolen from Swiss museum in 2008.
Last Modified: 12 Apr 2012 22:33
Serbian special police guarded the masterpiece in a news conference [Reuters]

Police in Serbia have recovered a painting by French artist Paul Cezanne that was stolen at gunpoint from a Swiss museum four years ago, officials say.

Four men, including the leader of the gang that conducted the robbery, have been arrested in the capital, Belgrade, and the town of Cacak.

Cezanne's Boy in a Red Waistcoat, which media said was worth more than $100m, was one of four paintings stolen from the E G Buehrle Collection in Zurich in 2008 by a trio of masked robbers who burst in just before closing time and told staff to lie on the floor while they took what they wanted.

A Swiss expert authenticated the oil on canvas painting retrieved by police, hidden in the door panel of a car.

Serbian Interior Minister Ivica Dacic said the police raids, planned since 2010, took place when the suspected robbers decided to take the Cezanne painting to a wealthy Serb who agreed to buy it for $4.6m.

Dacic said nearly $2m in cash and firearms were found with the four arrested men.

He said one of the arrested men was the leader of the gang that conducted the robbery, while the three others are believed to be accomplices in the crime.

"I think this is really an impressive action conducted jointly with Swiss police,'' Miljko Radisavljevic, the special prosecutor for organised crime, said.

Art experts have suggested the robbers took advantage of low security at the Swiss museum without knowing about the paintings or how difficult it can be to sell such well-known stolen art works.

Topics in this article
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.