German police have recovered several stolen artworks by neo-expressionist painter Georg Baselitz. The art was stolen from a storage unit in Munich and is valued at 2.5 million euros ($2.97 million)
Three suspects including a 51-year-old truck driver and his 26-year-old son, have been charged as accomplices
The paintings were found when thieves attempted to sell them. Prosecutors uncovered 15 of the 19 paintings and drawings stolen between June 2015 and March 2016. A 39-year-old who worked as a courier specialising in art transportation was the ringleader in the caper. two other suspects, a 51-year-old truck driver and his 26-year-old son, have also been charged in the disappearance of the works of art.
No further details about the works in the haul have been released by police. A spokeswoman for Munich prosecutors, Anne Leiding, who carried out the recovery operation, said the artworks were being kept in a safe place.
German police have been co-operating with authorities in Spain and France to trace the 51-year-old from Leverkusen, who fled the country. He was arrested on returning to Germany in August and remains in custody, the prosecutor said. The three suspects have so far not given police full information and the investigation is ongoing.
The theft only came to light when the thieves attempted to sell some of the works for sale for a knock down price. The artist’s insurers were notified and informed police, leading to the 51-year-old suspect residing in Spain.
Four artworks valued at 130,000 euros are still reported missing. It will be impossible to sell these high profile works at a future date.
Born in 1938 Baselitz, is considered a neo-expressionist. Widely known for his inverted portraits, landscapes, and still-lifes, Baselitz has long cultivated a subversive approach to figurative imagery. The artist’s debut exhibition in 1963 at Galerie Michael Werner in Berlin caused a scandal with its raw painterly style and disturbing content. In the following years, Baselitz created the renowned Hero and Fracture paintings, and a radical change in the artist’s work occurred in 1969 with his first inverted pictures. Seeking to, in his own words, “liberate representation from content”, landscape, nude and still-life motifs were rendered upside-down, focusing the viewer’s attention foremost on the painterly and optical elements of the picture. His work is held in major museums globally.