Doubts cast on authenticity of Picasso in Iraq
Date: 30 Aug 2009 | | Views: 3042
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN (AP)
In this image provided by the Iraqi Police, markings are seen on the back of a painting believed to be "The Naked Woman" by Pablo Picasso is seen after Special forces recovered the stolen work in a raid in Hillah, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Baghdad, Iraq, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2008. An Iraqi judge says authorities are investigating a man accused of trying to sell an allegedly stolen painting by Picasso. "The Naked Woman" was seized near the southern city of Hillah Tuesday after the man tried to sell it for $450,000. It's unclear if the painting is a genuine Picasso, although Iraqi police say it is.(AP Photo/Iraqi Police,HO)
BAGHDAD — Authorities in the art world cast doubt Thursday on the authenticity of an alleged Picasso painting that was seized by Iraqi police south of Baghdad.
A painting called "The Naked Woman" that police claimed was painted by Picasso was seized near the southern city of Hillah on Tuesday after the man allegedly tried to sell it for $450,000.
Iraqi police said the painting appeared to have been stolen from Kuwait following Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion.
But evidence seemed to mount Thursday that it was not a genuine Picasso.
The painting has a tag on the back with several misspellings that says it was sold by "the louvre" to "the museum of kuwait," with the words Louvre and Kuwait in lower case. There are also several stamps bearing the name of the Louvre Museum in Paris.
But an official with the Louvre Museum said it has never had a Picasso in its collection and does not sell its works because they are government property. The official spoke on condition of anonymity according to museum policy.
The London-based Art Loss Registry said it has no record of any paintings missing from the Kuwait National Museum, and no record of this particular painting as missing at all.
The Picasso Museum in Paris and France's national museum were searching their archives for signs of the painting, which Iraqi forces seized Tuesday during a raid on a house near Hillah, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) south of Baghdad.
A local judge in Hillah, Aqeel al-Janabi, said Thursday the painting will be sent to Baghdad after an investigation but refused to provide details.
In a video released by the Hillah police, the man detained for trying to sell it, 33-year-old Maitham al-Issawi, said it belonged to his father, who gave it to him before his death. His father, al-Issawi, was an army officer who took part in the invasion of Kuwait, which led to the 1991 Gulf War.
In the video, officers hold up the canvas, which has fold marks on the front. Police have said the painting bears Picasso's signature but would not comment further Thursday.
Associated Press correspondent Angela Charlton contributed to this report from Paris.