The painting was one of seven artworks stolen six years ago from the Kunsthal gallery in Amsterdam by a group of Romanian thieves in what was called “the heist of the century”.
The 2012 art grab lasted only three minutes: three men broke in through the emergency exit doors during exhibition time and grabbed the seven paintings by Picasso, Monet, Matisse, Gauguin, and Lucian Freud on loan to the museum.
TV channel Antena 3 reported that the painting was found by Dutch writer of Romanian extraction Mira Feticu, who earlier wrote a book on the art theft. She allegedly received an anonymous tip to where the painting could be found, so she returned to Romania with a partner and dug up the painting wrapped in plastic near a tree.
The two then handed over the painting to the Dutch embassy.
The four-person gang was arrested in 2013 and jailed in 2014 for the heist but the paintings have never been recovered. One of the thieves – Olga Dugaru, mother of the ring leader – said she burned the paintings in her stove to protect her son but later retracted her confession.
Romanian police, prosecution and forensics experts are currently investigating the reported recovery and are attempting to establish the authenticity of the painting.