A Dutch sleuth known as the Indiana Jones of the art world has tracked down a Pablo Picasso painting worth millions – 20 years after it was stolen from a yacht in France.
Arthur Brand recovered the 1938 work Buste de Femme, a portrait of Picasso’s mistress Dora Maar, two weeks ago – and his search took several years.
The artwork had been stolen from a wealthy Saudi sheikh’s yacht in 1999.
Mr Brand, a renowned art detective whose previous finds include a pair of bronze horses sculpted for Adolf Hitler and a Byzantine mosaic of Saint Mark taken from a church in Cyprus, has since handed over the painting to an insurance company.
He estimates the portrait to be worth €25m (£21m), and said he knew it was the real deal as soon as he saw it.
“You know it’s a Picasso because there is some magic coming off it,” Mr Brand added.
According to Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, the find has been confirmed by a former art investigator from Scotland Yard, who is now acting on behalf of the insurance company, and an expert from the US who flew over to the Netherlands to verify the portrait’s authenticity.
Last week, Mr Brand had tweeted to say he was working on “one of the biggest cases of my career”.
After confirming the find, he told De Volkskrant he believed the painting had been circulating in Dutch “underworld circles” since 2002.
He has not revealed the names of people involved in helping him track down the famous artwork, but said that a Dutch businessman had the painting before realising it was stolen.
Mr Brand added: “Once people realise it’s a stolen thing, they want to get rid of it.
“They dare not go to the police, they are afraid of being stolen or being arrested, while they have nothing to do with it. And then they end up with me.”