Saudi collector wanted Picasso in heist

January 25, 2008 10:09:37 AM PST
A suspect in last month's brazen theft of two paintings by Pablo Picasso and Candido Portinari told detectives the paintings were to be delivered to a Saudi collector, authorities said Friday.

Picasso's "Portrait of Suzanne Bloch" and "O Lavrador de Cafe" by Portinari, an influential Brazilian artist, were stolen Dec. 20 from the Sao Paulo Museum of Art by three men who used a crowbar and car jack to force open one of the museum's steel doors.

The framed paintings were found Jan 8., covered in plastic and leaning against a wall in a house on the outskirts of Sao Paulo, South America's largest city.

The suspect, Moises Manoel de Lima Sobrinho, who briefly hosted a cooking show on a local TV channel, provided the information after he turned himself in Thursday, but a public safety department spokeswoman said she did not know whether Lima Sobrinho named the Saudi collector. She declined to be identified in keeping with department policy.

Police have also said that Lima Sobrinho could provide information needed to catch those who ordered the theft.

Two other suspects are in custody, one of them an escaped convict. Still at large are the owner of the house where the paintings were found and the person or persons who ordered the heist.

Art experts estimate the value of the Picasso at about $50 million and the Portinari at $5 million to $6 million.


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