Austrian police have recovered 67 artworks stolen from a private Viennese collection in a Hollywood-style €2.5 million ($2.6 million) art heist in 2014, Der Standard reported.
A total of 71 works by Austrian expressionists including Carl Moll, Koloman Moser, Emil Beischläger, Alfons Walde, and Oskar Kokoschka, were stolen from a villa in the upscale neighborhood of Lainz while the elderly homeowner was away on a 10 day vacation.
The perpetrators disabled the alarm system and accessed the home from the rear, stealing the artworks, before fleeing the scene in a truck. There were no witnesses. The theft was only discovered when the 73-year-old woman returned to find the walls of her home had been stripped bare.
Four works valued at around €50,000 ($53,000) remain unaccounted for.
In the wake of the theft, an anonymous donor offered a €250,000 ($265,000) reward for information leading to the undamaged return of the artworks, and a portion of the money for the partial recovery of the paintings. A payout did not take place, however, since the works were tracked down in a coordinated police investigation, not with information from a member of the public.
Three years ago, the news of the brazen burglary captured the imagination of the public for its movie-like qualities. Police said that the crime was probably committed by experienced professional art thieves who knew exactly what they wanted to steal and how to get it.
“We assume that this was an internationally active Eastern European criminal gang,” Vienna police spokesman Patrick Maierhofer said on Wednesday.
Last Friday, officers secured 67 paintings stashed in an apartment in the center of the Austrian capital including Moll’s Kirschblüten in Grinzing, valued at €350,000 ($371,000); Koloman Moser’s Geranien, valued at €200,000 ($212,000); and Kokoschka’s Zigeunermädchen, valued at €45,000 ($48,000). Maierhofer said all works were found in good condition and will remain in police custody whilst the investigation continues.
The spokesman revealed that the discovery was the result of an international criminal investigation conducted by the Austrian Federal Criminal Police in collaboration with the European police agency Europol, who followed the trail of the works and the thieves.
There have been no arrests yet and the identities of the perpetrators are still unclear, but Maierhofer warned that the criminals are being classified as dangerous.
Follow artnet News on Facebook.