Bulgarian Police Recover Missing Precious PaintingCrime | August 9, 2011, Tuesday // 12:31| views
Three people have been arrested in Bulgaria on antiques smuggling charges. File photo
A painting of famous Czech artist, Jaroslav Vesin, who worked mostly in Bulgaria, has been discovered during a special police operation, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry's press center reported.
The painting titled "King Ferdinand and Gen. Nikolaev" had been offered on the black market for EUR 20 000.
The investigators from the "Cultural and Historical Valuables" unit began a probe after it became clear high-price paintings have been systematically stolen from different homes in the capital Sofia, the Bulgarian Novinar (News Reporter) daily writes.
The criminals, involved in an illegal antique smuggling channel, were busted while trying to trade 6 icons.
Vesin's painting disappeared from a Sofia home in the beginning of February.
The detainees are a Sofia antiques dealer – a Turkish national, 53, residing permanently in Bulgaria and a 40-year-old Sofia resident with a criminal record.
The two maintained close ties with those robbing private collections across Bulgaria's capital. The third detainee is a 53-year-old man from the southern town of Gotse Delchev who was busted as he was trying to sell the icons for EUR 6 000.
The raid of the home and the store of the antiques dealer further yielded 14 other paintings, two gas pistols, a Winchester riffle, bullets, metal candleholders and other church items.
In addition, police found in the home of the other Sofia detainee 34 paintings, Vesin's among them, plus an icon, walkie-talkies, safety vault keys, jewelry and other gold objects.