Greek police recover stolen Rubens painting

September 1, 2011 - 11:25 AM

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greek police recovered a 17th century painting by Flemish master Pieter Paul Rubens stolen from a museum in Belgium a decade ago, authorities said Thursday.

Two people, both Greeks, were arrested in the operation, he said. Neither the police nor the Culture Ministry would give further information on the raid, the painting or which Belgian museum it was stolen from, saying investigations were still ongoing into the case.

The artwork, dating from 1618 and stolen in 2001, was "a particularly important painting," the ministry said. The artwork had been examined by experts from the ministry and determined to be genuine and "of priceless value," Greek police spokesman Panagiotis Papapetropoulos said.

"The painting is being kept at the antiquities department of the greater Athens police," Papapetropoulos said.

One work that was stolen in 2001 in Belgium was an oil sketch attributed to Rubens and snatched from the Fine Arts Museum in Ghent by three masked robbers. The thieves ripped "The Hunt for the Caledonian Wild Boar" from the wall, along with the more famous "Flagellation of Christ," but they dropped the latter during their escape.

The ministry and police said a second raid also conducted Thursday led to the arrest of another six Greeks and stolen antiquities: three prehistoric bronze items, a metal seal and a manuscript with Arabic script.

The ministry said it would publicly present the painting and other items at a later date, possibly next week. No further details were immediately available, and Belgian police had no immediate comment.

(This version corrects name of painting stolen in 2001.)