SHARE
COPY LINK

ART

Spanish police recover three stolen Francis Bacon paintings

Spanish police have recovered three of five paintings by British artist Francis Bacon that were stolen from a Madrid apartment in 2015, they said Thursday.

Spanish police recover three stolen Francis Bacon paintings
Photo: Policia Nacional

“I can confirm that three paintings have been recovered,” a police spokeswoman said.

She said she could not give more details because of the ongoing investigation to find the remaining two artworks.  

The five paintings are estimated to be worth more than €25 million ($29 million).

They were stolen from the home of a friend of Bacon in central Madrid in July 2015 while he was away in London.  

The thieves also made off with a safe that contained a collection of coins and jewels.

READ MORE: Art thieves suspected of Francis Bacon heist arrested in Madrid

Spanish police have so far arrested 10 suspects linked to the theft.    

In May 2016, with the help of a British firm that searches for stolen art, they arrested one of the suspected perpetrators, as well as five accomplices that allegedly helped hide the paintings.

A Barcelona resident had sent the firm pictures of a Bacon painting to see if it appeared on the company's list of stolen artworks.  

Police analysed the photos and found clues that led them to another suspect who they believed carried out the robbery.    

This suspect then led police to an art dealer and his son who are suspected of hiding the stolen paintings.

READ MORE: Five Francis Bacon paintings snatched in Madrid heist

Police did not provide details on the stolen paintings but daily newspaper El Pais said they depicted the owner of the artworks, Bacon's friend.  

The thieves tried to sell the paintings on two occasions, the newspaper added.

Police recovered one painting several months ago and the other two just a few days ago, according to the newspaper.  

Bacon often visited Madrid, where he spent time studying old masters paintings in the Prado Museum, and died in the city in 1992, aged 82.

READ ALSO: Secret tape: Francis Bacon had a Spanish muse

ART

Paul Gauguin’s ‘Mata Mua’ returns to Spain

One of French painter Paul Gauguin's most famous paintings, "Mata Mua", will return to a Madrid museum on Monday following an agreement between the Spanish government and its owner, who took it out of the country.

mata mua madrid
Toward the end of his life, Gauguin spent ten years in French Polynesia, where he completed some of his most famous artwork Painting: Paul Gaugin

The artwork had been on display for two decades at Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza museum but in 2020 when the institution closed because of the pandemic, the painting’s owner Carmen Thyssen moved it to Andorra where she currently lives.

Her decision to take “Mata Mua” to the microstate sandwiched between Spain and France raised fears she would remove other works from her collection which are on display at the museum.

“It is expected that the painting will arrive today,” a spokeswoman for the museum told AFP.

mata-mua_gauguin-madrid

In 1989, Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza bought Mata Mua at the Sotheby’s auction in New York. Painting: Paul Gauguin

The artwork will go back on display to the public “a few days after” Thyssen signs a new agreement with the Spanish state for the lease of her collection, she added. The deal is expected to be signed on Wednesday.

Painted in 1892 in vivid, flat colours, “Mata Mua” depicts two women, one playing the flute and the other listening, set against a lush Tahitian landscape.

It is one of the stars of Thyssen’s collection of several hundred paintings which are on show at the museum, including works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Claude Monet.

Her collection had initially been displayed at the Madrid museum as part of a free loan agreement signed in February 2002 that was subsequently extended.

But in August 2021 Spain’s culture ministry announced it had reached an agreement with Thyssen to rent the collection from her for 15 years for €97.5 million ($111.5 million), with “preferential acquisition rights on all or part” of the works. The collection includes a Degas, a Hopper and a Monet.

Aside from housing her collection of works, the museum displays the collection of her late husband, Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, the Swiss heir to a powerful industrial lineage who died in Spain in 2002.

The Spanish state bought his collection in 1993 from $350 million, according to the museum.

SHOW COMMENTS