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Romanian mother Olga Doragu now says she did not burn 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.

MatisseEnlarge
'Danseuse Dans le Fauteuil, Sol en Damier, 1942' by Henri Matisse is displayed at Sotheby's Auction House on June 5, 2007 in London, England. The painting will be sold at auction along with masterpieces by Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon. (Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

The mother of a suspected Romanian art thief changed her story Monday, telling judges she did not burn the priceless paintings her son is accused of stealing.

In a statement to the court, Olga Doragu said her earlier account that she tossed the works by Picasso, Monet, Matisse and other modern masters into her stove was a lie to protect her son.

"I did not burn them," she said, according to The New York Times.

More from GlobalPost: Art thief's mother may have burned priceless paintings

This despite "overwhelming evidence" that at least three of the paintings were, in fact, destroyed by fire, Reuters reported Monday.

Doragu's 29-year-old son, Radu, and three other accomplices allegedly stole a number of paintings from the Kunsthal Gallery in Rotterdam in October, valued at $150 million.

Last week, Doragu set the art world on edge with her story that she had tossed a suitcase containing the paintings into her stove and burned them in February.

After the hearing, her lawyer told the Times he didn't know what had become of the stolen art.

More from GlobalPost: Romania arrests 3 in Rotterdam art heist

"We might never find out what happened to the paintings,” Radu Catalin Dancu told the newspaper.

Romania's National History Museum has been 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.

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.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/130722/romania-olga-doragu-says-did-not-burn-priceless-paintings