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Stolen painting by Mondrian recovered

July 15, 2021

There was great consternation when in 2012 three art works were stolen from the Greek National Gallery in Athens: a sixteenth-century drawing by Guglielmo Gaccia, a woman’s portrait painted by Picasso from 1939 and an oil sketch by Mondrian from 1905. Equally great is the relief, now that nine years later at least the paintings have been recovered by the Greek authorities. According to the police, the drawing was destroyed by the perpetrators. A day after the paintings had been recovered, they were shown to the press. One suspect has been arrested. Although during the presentation no comments were made about the condition the paintings were in, it would appear that the Mondrian did not remain entirely unscathed.

The recovered painting by Mondrian, Stammer mill with summer house (A397), 1905, 35 x 49 cm. Athens, National Gallery

The recovered work by Mondrian is entitled Stammer mill with summer house and is dated around 1905. Mondrian painted several versions of this mill. Just like the Picasso, the painting was removed from its frame during the theft. Remarkably enough, the perpetrators tried to take a second Mondrian, which they eventually discarded during their flight. The work in question was a smaller sketch of a farm from around the same period.

Piet Mondrian, Farmyard sketch with polladed willow at left (A321), c. 1905, 24 x31 cm. Athens, National Gallery

The suspect declared that he stole the works for love of art and that he had had no intention of selling them. This is inconsistent with reports that claimed the Picasso was offered up for sale somewhere for 20 million euros at the beginning of 2021. Dutch art detective Arthur Brand stated that the suspect also possessed a Picasso and a Monet, which were stolen from the Rotterdam Kunsthal, also in 2012. For this theft four men were convicted.