Police Nab Europes Most Notorious Art Thief — And His Mom, Too – ARTINFO.com
Stéphane Breitwieser may be Europe’s most notorious art thief. And, after having stolen over 240 works of art — including a painting by Lucas Cranach the Elder and some Renaissance jewels — served prison time, and, naturally, published a memoir (“Confessions of an Art Thief”), the man is at it again. The 39-year-old was arrested near Strasbourg, France, recently, along with his mother, Mireille Stengel, after police learned that he had tried to sell a stolen vase in Germany. Upon searching their homes, the French art trafficking squad discovered stolen paintings and other art objects that the two had concealed.
At Breitwieser’s home, police discovered about 40 paintings, three sculptures, and a tapestry, French newspaper Le Parisien reports. At Breitwieser’s mother’s place, cops also found a landscape by aBrueghel pupil that had been stolen from a Brussels museum. Several valuable objects, including chandeliers and pocket watches, were also discovered in the pond next to Breitwieser’s mother’s house. In the past, she destroyed several paintings in order to protect her son, and also hid his stolen artworks along a highway, in a canal, and even in a neighbor’s chicken coop.
Breitwieser had been under surveillance for two years, after an art dealer in a nearby town suspected that the infamous art thief had snatched a painting and an Art Nouveau vase by Emile Galléfrom his shop. Both items were among those discovered in Breitwieser’s home, and the vase turned out to be the one that he tried to sell in Germany. Since his release from prison, Breitwieser has allegedly committed thefts in France, Belgium, and Germany — staying a bit closer to home, since his previous crimes took him further afield, to places like Denmark and Austria.
Police Nab Europes Most Notorious Art Thief — And His Mom, Too – ARTINFO.com.