(BELGRADE, Serbia) — A Cezanne masterpiece worth at least $109 million that was yanked from the wall of a Zurich art gallery in 2008 has been recovered, Serbian police sources said Thursday.
Three arrests were made in connection with the theft, which was one of the biggest art heists in recent history.
Authorities have not identified the painting, but Serbian media reports that it is “Boy In A Red Waistcoat” by Paul Cezanne. The masterpiece was taken from Zurich gallery Emil Georg Buehrle, a private collection founded by a World War II arms dealer and businessman.
A police source told ABC News that investigators are bringing in an art expert from Switzerland to verify that the painting is genuine.
Masked thieves rushed in just before the private museum closed, drew weapons and ordered frightened patrons to lie on the ground. They stole “Boy” and three other paintings during the heist.
Two works by Claude Monet and Vincent Van Gogh were recovered a few days later, but the Cezanne and another work by Edgar Degas had not been retrieved.
“There is reason for Swiss to open champagne tonight,” Nikola Kusovac, a leading art expert in Serbia, told ABC News. “This is a cult masterpiece, one of Switzerland’s most treasured artworks.”
The work, painted around 1888, depicts a young boy in a traditional Italian waistcoat with a blue handkerchief and belt.
Police said the recent arrests in Belgrade and Cacak were conducted in coordination with police from several European countries.
Degas’ “Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter,” worth about $11 million, is still missing.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN