HAVANA TIMES — The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) published today a list of 70 artworks recently stolen from the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana.
The organization condemned the theft which it said “threatens the integrity of the seized property”, placing them at the mercy of illicit trafficking of cultural assets at the national and international level,” stated UNESCO in a press release.
The theft of the works, mostly belonging to the artistic period known as the “Turn of the Century” on the Caribbean island (the time between 1897 and 1927), was discovered after several pieces were put on sale in Miami, home to the largest Cuban exile community .
The works on the list are mostly paintings on canvas by several artists with the most being by Cuban artist Leopoldo Romañach.
The Cuban authorities said storage facilities of the Museum of Fine Arts in Havana showed no signs of violence and that the frames were carefully repositioned.
“Access to the site was not violated, so it cannot be ascertained the exact date the theft took place,” said the National Council of Cultural Heritage in a statement in late February.
The authors of the theft cut the canvases and “neatly repositioned the frames, so that at first glance the heist would not be detected,” said the Council which asked for help to locate the stolen works.
In the days following the acknowledgement of the theft, the Cuban Minister of Culture, Rafael Bernal was summarily dismissed from his post, but no reason was given.