Priceless Works of Ash


Seven paintings by some of history’s most celebrated artists may be lost to humanity forever. The paintings, valued at over $350 million, were allegedly incinerated in an oven by an old women in a remote Romanian village. The woman claims she burned the pieces, including work by Monet, Matisse, Gauguin and Picasso, in an effort to free her son who was being investigated for their theft. If they no longer existed, she reasoned, her son could go free from prosecution. 

Could this be the most incredibly elaborate cover story of all time? Possibly not. Experts recently linked the ash found in her oven with materials often used by classical European artists.

“Unfortunately, I have a bad feeling that a huge and horrible crime happened, and the masterpieces were destroyed,” Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the director of the National History Museum, said in a telephone interview on Thursday. If so, he added, it would be “a barbarian crime against humanity.”

I want to see these ashes. 

Romanian’s Tale Has Art World Fearing the Worst, Liz Alderman, New York Times (July 18, 2013)