Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Stolen Cuban art takes flight

  • Print

It was both dispiriting and unsurprising to hear the other day that nearly 100 artworks had been stolen from storage at Cuba’s National Museum of Fine Arts.

Dispiriting because there are hints, as the story has been reported, that the heist was an inside job and possibly accomplished with the knowledge of the Cuban government. Unsurprising for the very same reasons.

So far nearly a dozen of the works have turned up for sale in at least one Miami art gallery. One well-known Cuban-American collector and dealer in Miami purchased a piece, then discovered its connection to the museum in Havana. The collector alerted the museum a few weeks ago and apparently has turned the painting over to the FBI.

All of the paintings discovered so far were knifed out of their frames in a warehouse. The frames were re-stacked in a way that the canvases’ absence wasn’t readily noticed.

Whoever hauled the pieces off and placed them in South Florida and, presumably, elsewhere must have been aware of a rising market in Cuban art. Perhaps it’s another sign of Cuba’s economic desperation, like the shipment of old Russian jets and radar equipment that was buried underneath sacks of sugar on a freighter bound for North Korea and stopped last year in Panama.

The Cuban museum has been urged to report the thefts to one or more of the agencies that track stolen art — the FBI, Interpol or the Art Loss Register in London.

Several of the paintings have been identified as the work of a 19th- and 20th-century Cuban artist, Leopoldo Romanach.

Jose Antonio Menendez, director of Cuba’s National Registry of Cultural Objects, confirmed that some of the missing works had been found in Florida, according to the Associated Press.

"The investigation is developing," Menendez said, "and we are concluding an inventory that will be made public."

How much more we can learn about the theft in Havana — and what it means to the Cuban government — remains to be seen.

 

Steve Paul is a columnist for the Kansas City Star.

 

— Kansas City Star

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Christmas Cheer Board hamper kickoff

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Geese fly in the morning light over Selkirk Ave Wednesday morning- Day 22– June 13, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE.BRYKSA@FREEPRESS.MB.CA Local-(  Standup photo)-    A butterfly looks for nector on a lily Tuesday afternoon in Wolseley-JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS- June 22, 2010

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Should Canada send heavy military equipment to Ukraine?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google