Cuba confirms theft of Cuban paintings from National Museum of Fine Arts

Havana, Mar 1 (EFE).- Cuba confirmed the theft of "an important" group of pieces from the storerooms of the National Museum of Fine Arts in Havana, mostly Cuban works of art, and said an account of what is missing has been widely distributed to avoid illegal trafficking of the paintings inside and outside the country.

"Last week an important group of pieces was found to be missing from the storerooms of the administrative Antonio Rodriguez Morey building of the National Museum of Fine Arts," a note from the National Council of Cultural Heritage, or CNPC, released Friday by official media, said.

According to the communique, the building had not been broken into and "the exact date when the robbery took place cannot be determined" since "the thieves cut out the paintings and put the frames back in order, so that a simple glance could not detect that anything was missing."

The first tip about the robbery came from Miami, where a gallery owner told Efe on Friday that two weeks ago his outfit bought a painting by a Cuban artist of the modern period, Eduardo Abela (1889-1965), with no idea that it had been stolen.

But as his suspicions grew, gallery owner Ramon Cernuda said he called high-ranking officials at the Havana museum to ask about it, and they confirmed it was an oil painting entitled "Carnaval Infantil" by Abela and had been taken from the museum.

The CNPC said Friday that "most of the stolen works were from the turn-of-the-century Arte Cubano period, known for its transition from the academic to modern schools, and especially for the paintings of Leopoldo RomaƱach."