Known for his astounding artistic talent, Pablo Picasso is number one on the lists of most stolen artists on the record. Picasso, who is credited as having said, "Good artists borrow, great artists steal," perhaps should have given it more thought before sharing his idea with the world as his words were apparently misinterpreted by some people. His status as the most stolen artist of all time, according to a list compiled by the Art Loss Register, an organization that assists in the tracking and recovery of stolen art worldwide, is demonstrated by the staggering 1,147 (a thousand and one hundred forty-seven) of his paintings that have disappeared. On Saturday, August 13, 2022, a Picasso painting that had been stolen was recovered during a drug raid. The General Directorate for Combating Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances at the Ministry of Interior of Iraq reported that the drug gang was caught in possession of a stolen artwork by unquestionably one of the most famous artists of all time, which is estimated to be worth millions of dollars.
The head of the anti-narcotics media office, Colonel Bilal Sobhi, told Iraqi News Agency in a statement that the anti-narcotics directorate conducted an operation in which a group of three defendants involved in the trading and transportation of narcotic drugs was arrested and had a Picasso painting seized from their possession. A more extensive operation that started in July was the basis of the raid on Saturday. The statement adds that it has caught 1,300 individuals and seized "44 kg of narcotic substances" in addition to "37 kg of stimulants, including crystal."
Uncertainty surrounds the recovered artwork's state as well as the subject matter and size of the piece. The painting has reportedly not yet been authenticated, and the Iraqi Ministry of Interior has not yet provided any images or additional information about it. It is unknown at this time if any further works of art or other priceless cultural artifacts were found during the raids. By the time of publication, the Iraqi Interior Ministry had not responded to a request for comment.
Oddly, it is not the first time a supposed Picasso has been discovered in Iraq. Police in August 2009 located the rare artwork by the Spanish artist in the town of Hillah in central Iraq. The painting, named The Naked Woman, was inscribed with multiple stamps from the Parisian museum and featured the name "louvre" in lower case. It was said to have been taken during the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. However, that said painting has never been reported lost from The Kuwait National Museum, according to the London-based Art Loss Register. A representative who spoke to the Associated Press denied ever having a Picasso in their collection in The Louvre Museum and said they do not sell Picasso’s artwork either since it is government property.
In Colonel Sobhi’s statement, he made special mention of the connections between the antiquities trade and different crimes and illicit trades like "drugs, murder, theft, and kidnapping." In recent years, organized crime groups have found success and increased popularity using famous works of art or works by well-known artists as bargaining collateral. Even though movies make art theft seem sophisticated, it mostly includes criminals wanting to make a quick profit. They do not care about the art; it is only that, unlike a bank, art museums are not safe, making it far simpler to steal a Picasso than to steal a million dollars. Though there were controversies about whether Picasso was a nice person, his artwork being stolen is a disrespect – not to him – but to the art world which was influenced by Picasso’s art so much. But maybe he deserved to get his artwork stolen. After all, he is the one who tried to buy stolen paintings from The Louvre and was a suspect in the heist of the Mona Lisa.