Construction Worker Allegedly Stole Priceless Picasso Painting, Hid It For Nine Years

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A priceless painting by Pablo Picasso was recovered while the suspected thief was arrested nine years after the art piece’s disappearance, authorities said Tuesday.

Picasso gifted his “Woman’s Head,” painted in 1939, to the Greek people for their resistance against the Nazi occupation during WWII. This painting, along with the Dutch master Piet Mondrian’s “Stammer Mill with Summer House,” was stolen from the National Gallery in Athens, Greece, in January 2012, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Questioning the main suspect, a 49-year-old construction worker, led Greek police to discover the stolen paintings wrapped in plastic sheets and hidden in a dry river bed in the outskirts of Athens, The AP reported.

The art pieces were purportedly relocated to the river bed not long before the finding. The thief allegedly decided to choose a more secure hiding place upon hearing the news that the police were about to make an arrest in the case, The AP reported. (RELATED: Police Recover 500-Year-Old Stolen Leonardo Da Vinci Painting Of Jesus In Italy)

“This painting is of special importance and emotional value as the great painter personally dedicated it to the Greek people for their struggle against fascist and Nazi (occupying) forces and bears his hand-written dedication,” Greece’s Minister of Culture Lina Mendoni said, according to The AP.

“That is why this painting was impossible not only to sell but even to put on display as it would be immediately identified as being stolen from the National Gallery,” Mendoni added.