Iraqi police claimed that an untold number of paintings worth millions were found in a bust for narcotics.
The weekend’s drug raid in Diyala saw the police recover a painting that Pablo Picasso stole from Iraqi.
The artwork was seized on Saturday after being found in the possession of three people targeted in a narcotics raid, the state-run Iraqi News Agency reported, citing a statement by the country’s Interior Ministry. Authorities offered no additional details on the painting, except to say that it’s worth “millions of dollars.”
“The drug trade is linked to many crimes, including murder, theft, kidnapping, rape, gang formation, corruption and family disintegration, until it reaches the antiquities trade,” said Colonel Bilal Sobhi, director of the ministry’s anti-narcotics media office.
Since last month, the Iraqi government has intensified its anti-drug trafficking crackdown. It arrested 1,300 people and confiscated 44 kg of drugs. Sobhi stated that the ministry has also captured 37 kilograms worth of stimulants. “crystal.”He said intelligence from Iraqi citizens was a major factor in the breaking up of drug gangs like the one that was caught with the stolen picture.
Picasso’s works are among the world’s most valuable paintings. One of his paintings sold for $179.4 million, then a record price, in May 2015, reportedly to Qatar’s royal Al Thani family. There have been at least four other works that sold for over $100 million. Following a long career that had spanned over eight decades, the artist was killed in 1973.
The Iraqi police claim to have seized another Picasso painting from Iraq in 2009 and that they were attempting to sell it for $450,000. It is entitled “The Painting.” ‘The Naked Woman’, was allegedly stolen from the National Museum of Kuwait during Iraq’s invasion of the neighboring state in 1990. The painting was later claimed to be faked by officials from the National Museum of Kuwait as well as the Louvre in Paris.
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