Greece on Thursday publicly presented a stolen Rubens painting that was recovered by Greek police a week earlier in an Athens seaside suburb, during a press conference by culture and tourism minister Pavlos Geroulanos, who said that the painting will be turned over by the Greek state to the Belgian museum from where it was stolen in a robbery a decade ago.
Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens' 1618 "The Hunt for the Caledonian Wild Boar Hunt" (28 X 52 cm) was stolen in 2001 from the Ghent Museum of Fine Arts, and was recovered by Greek police on September 1 in an Athens seaside suburb, while two people -- a 65-year-old former antique store owner and a 40-year-old woman -- were arrested after the painting was found in the trunk of their car.
According to police the pair was, by all accounts, not involved in the original museum heist, and the investigation was now focused on how the painting by the 17th century Flemish master came into their possession.
Undercover police posing as buyers offered up to six million euros for the painting, and the pair was arrested at a final meeting set up for the transaction.
Geroulanos, during a joint press conference on Thursday with citizens protection minister Christos Papoutsis and Greece's National Gallery director Marina Lambraki-Plaka at the gallery, commenting on reservations that have been voiced as to the authenticity of the painting, said categorically: "The painting was purchased as a Rubens, it is recorded as a Rubens work in the catalogues of the Ghent museum -- to which it belongs -- and was stolen as a Rubens work".
"The Greek state will turn over this painting to the Ghent museum, which has identified it as the work of the Master," the Greek minister added.
Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) was a prolific 17th century Flemish Baroque painter and proponent of an exuberant Baroque style emphasising color, movement and sensuality, and is known for his Counter-Reformation altarpieces, portraits, landscapes and history paintings of mythological and allegorical subjects.