Two paintings by the Irish painter Francis Bacon, robbed in 2015 in Madrid in what is considered the largest theft of contemporary art in Spain, reappear in video footage allegedly used by thieves to place those paintings on the market for 4 million euros ($ 5 million).
The videos and photos, shared this Thursday on social networks by the Dutch detective Arthur Brand – known as the “Indiana Jones of art” for the large number of stolen paintings he has located- show both the presumed original paintings and the wooden frames, with a code and the name “Bacon” written in black in one corner.
“These are the photos of the two missing Bacons. The partners of the original thieves are trying to sell them for 4 million euros and are already in contact with interested buyers ”, warns Brand, who believes that making the images public could help prospective buyers not to go through with the deal.
The video, which implies that it was filmed in Spain, ends with a page on which the term “Jason” appears handwritten, signed as “Starbucks Madrid” and with the literal date “2020-5-11”. The alleged sellers film the paintings displayed on the bed of a room that could be a hotel, in which an antique green and white cupboard and chest of drawers can be identified, along with a coffee machine and a plant.
In the different photos in Brand’s hands, one of them shows one of the paintings along with an example from the newspaper El País from October 6, 2019. According to the art detective, These two paintings are part of the five paintings valued at around 30 million euros (almost 37 million dollars), which were stolen in 2015 in Madrid in the “largest theft of contemporary art in Spain”.
The Spanish Police managed in July 2017 to recover three of those paintings, in an operation that concluded with the arrest of three people related to theft – another seven people were arrested in 2016 – and that They were members of an organized group dedicated to the theft of homes and establishments throughout Spain.
The theft took place in July 2015 at the home of a friend of Francis Bacon, José Capelo, to whom the artist bequeathed the works, located in the center of Madrid and to which the thieves accessed while the owner was in London. Those arrests were possible as a result of the investigation of the telematic consultation made to a British private entity dedicated to the search for stolen or missing works of art and investigations into some unpublished photographs included in that query.
The artist Francis Bacon passed away in 1992, at the age of 82, in Madrid, a city that he visited frequently and where he had many friends and admirers; in fact, the owner of the stolen works received the paintings as an inheritance from the artist.