Seven priceless works of art by Picasso, Matisse, Monet, Gauguin, Lucian Freud and Meyer de Haan may have been burned by a mother in Romania trying to protect her son from being charged with art robbery.

Olga Dogaru, mother of the alleged ring leader Radu Dogaru, told investigators she was scared for her son after he was arrested in January for the October 16 break-in of the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

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She said she buried the art her son had taken to their home in an abandoned house and then in a cemetery in the village of Caracliu. She said she later dug them up and then burned them when police started searching the village for the art.

Investigators had hoped the mother’s story was not true and was just intended to thwart prosecution against her son, but now Romania’s National History Museum has found traces of paint, canvas and nails in ashes found in Dogaru’s stove — suggesting her story is, in fact, true.

The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction.

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The stolen paintings included: Picasso’s 1971 Harlequin Head; Monet’s 1901 Waterloo Bridge, London and Charing Cross Bridge, London; 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, around 1890; and Lucian Freud’s 2002 work Woman With Eyes Closed.

– Via New York Times, the Guardian and the BBC.

Photo: Waterloo Bridge, London by Claude Monet is one of seven paintings stolen during a break-in at Rotterdam’s Kunsthal. Credit: File, Rotterdam Police Department.