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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 January 2008, 09:40 GMT
Stolen Picasso found in Sao Paulo
By Gary Duffy
BBC News, Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo officials display two recovered, highly prized works of art on Tuesday
The retrieved pictures were under close guard as they went on show
Police in Brazil say they have recovered two paintings worth millions of dollars stolen last month from a museum in the centre of Sao Paulo.

Two suspects were put under arrest over the theft of the works, by Pablo Picasso and the Brazilian artist Candido Portinari.

The pictures were found undamaged leaning against a wall in a house on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.

Officials at the Museum of Art will be greatly relieved by their recovery.

The theft of the paintings was a major embarrassment for the museum.

Shortly after they were stolen it emerged that the two paintings, along with some 8,000 other works of art in the gallery, were not insured.

Although there had been fears that the paintings had already been smuggled abroad they were in fact recovered in a district in the eastern part of the Sao Paulo metropolitan area, and two suspects were arrested.

The two paintings are said to be worth at least $55m (28m; 37m euros).

Police were led to the house where the discovery was made by a suspect who had been arrested. The paintings were found covered in plastic, leaning against a wall.

'Never again'

The Sao Paulo Museum of Art has been closed since the theft, and an increased police presence has been maintained around the building ever since.

A hydraulic jack used by thieves to prise open the door to the Sao Paulo Museum of Art
A simple hydraulic jack was used to prise open the museum entrance

The three thieves used only a crow bar and a hydraulic car jack to break into the museum and stole the paintings in a matter of minutes.

The recovered works of art have been examined by officials to confirm their authenticity and are said be in perfect condition.

Both paintings were closely guarded as they were displayed at a police news conference.

They will be returned to the museum in time for its reopening on Friday.

The authorities have promised that security at the landmark building has been improved to ensure this kind of theft never happens again.

SEE ALSO
Picasso stolen from Brazil museum
20 Dec 07 |  Americas

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