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Five Old Master Paintings stolen from Gotha during the GDR-era returned

A new exhibition has been announced, which will recount the intriguing tale of the theft and return of five paintings to the town of Gotha, under the title: "Wieder da! - Die zurückgekehrten Meisterwerke". They had been stolen in 1979 from Schloss Friedenstein in Gotha in the most significant art heist of the GDR-era. Last month it was revealed that the Old Master paintings, including works by Hals and Holbein, had been anonymously returned to the Berlin state museums’ Rathgen Research Laboratory. Their homecoming followed a year of negotiations between the Mayor of Gotha, Knut Kreuch, and the guardians of the stolen paintings, who had at first demanded more than €5 million in return, using a lawyer as an intermediary. In the end, with the support of the Siemens Art Foundation, Kreuch was able to secure the return without any ransom paid. But for now, the identity of the former guardians, who have claimed they were not the original thieves but in fact inherited the paintings, remains concealed, and the heist unsolved. Perhaps Berlin’s Federal Crime Office will shed more light on this case as they commence investigations on suspicion of blackmail.

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