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European Journal

Romania/ The Netherlands: Village Of Thieves

The people accused of stealing works by world-famous artists last year in Rotterdam are now on trial in Bucharest. In the suspects' home village in eastern Romania just about everyone knows them.

In the Netherlands, it was the art theft of the century. In just two minutes, the robbers stole paintings by Matisse, Monet and Picasso from a special exhibition at the Rotterdam Kunsthal. But afterwards police say the thieves couldn't sell the artworks - so they burned at least some of them, in an attempt to hide evidence of the crime. Regardless of how the trial turns out, a Romanian production company has purchased the rights to make a movie about the crime. Residents of the suspects' home village, Carcaliu, say the group’s members were well-known to them. The stolen artworks are still missing -- but it's not yet clear whether all of them were destroyed.