Art Smuggling Bust Uncovers Previously Unknown Jackson Pollock Painting Worth $54 Million: Reports

Not the artwork mentioned in the story. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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Bulgarian police uncovered a previously unknown artwork by iconic American artist Jackson Pollock after busting a group of art smugglers, according to multiple reports.

Authorities discovered the €50 million (roughly $54 million) painting by Jackson Pollock on Tuesday while conducting an investigation into international art smugglers, according to The Guardian.

Pollock was a popular figure in the abstract expressionist movement that characterized 1940s and 50s artwork. He is known for his “drip technique” of haphazardly pouring paint onto canvases to create random patterns. He struggled with alcoholism and died in a car accident in 1956.

The raid was carried out in Athens and on the island of Crete, according to The Art Newspaper.

Three Greek citizens and one Bulgarian were taken into custody, Bulgarian news outlet Novinite reported. (RELATED: Spanish Billionaire’s Prison Sentence For Smuggling Picasso Painting Out Of Spain Is Increased To Three Years)

Specialists from the National Art Gallery received the painting and determined it to be an uncategorized work by world-famous Pollock from 1949, Novinite reported. A Romanian stamp on the back of the picture indicates it was likely part of the personal collection of Romanian communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu, according to a separate article from Novinite, citing the Bulgarian National Television.

“This is an international operation with the participation of Europol, Greece and other countries,” Petar Todorov, Bulgaria’s chief secretary of the ministry of internal affairs, said, The Guardian reported. “To our great joy, we managed to establish and keep this painting and at the moment the expertise shows that it is an original.”

Greek police recovered five other paintings by famous artists in operations carried out in Athens and on Crete, according to Novinite.