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Art thief's mother may have burned priceless paintings

Authorities are testing ashes found in a stove to determine if Olga Doragu burned the paintings her son allegedly stole in a major Netherlands art heist.

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New York, UNITED STATES: File picture taken November 10, 1997 shows Christopher Burge, chairman of Christie's (L), starting the bidding for Pablo Picasso's painting, 'Le Reve' in New York at an auction of the collection of Victor and Sally Ganz. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Authorities are investigating a claim that the mother of a suspected Romanian art thief burned priceless pieces by Picasso, Monet and Matisse in an effort to keep investigators off the trail of her son. 

Olga Doragu's son, along with three accomplices, allegedly stole a number of priceless paintings from the Kunsthal Gallery in Rotterdam in October, valued at $150 million. 

Read more from GlobalPost: Romania arrests 3 in Rotterdam art heist 

"After the arrest of my son I was very scared because I knew that what had happened was very serious," court documents record Doragu's mother saying, according to the IB Times. 

"I placed the suitcase containing the paintings in the stove. I put in some logs, slippers and rubber shoes and waited until they had completely burned," she claimed, adding that she had buried the works in multiple locations before ultimately burning them in February.

Romania's National History Museum is now examining the ashes in Doragu's stove to see if her story is true, and not another effort to throw investigators off the trail of the artworks. 

Prosecutor spokeswoman Gabriela Chiru told the Associated Press that authorities did not "necessarily believe" Doragu's account, but confirmation could take months. 

The three suspects were taken into custody in January of this year, but the paintings in the biggest Netherlands art theft since a 1991 heist of works by Van Gogh remain missing. 

The stolen paintings were: Pablo Picasso's 1971 "Harlequin Head," Claude Monet's 1901 "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London," Henri Matisse's 1919 "Reading Girl in White and Yellow," Paul Gauguin's 1898 "Girl in Front of Open Window," Meyer de Haan's "Self-Portrait," and Lucian Freud's 2002 work "Woman with Eyes Closed."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/130717/art-thefts-mother-may-have-burned-priceless-painting