HAVANA (AP) — Dozens of works of art were secretly taken from a storage facility at Cuba's flagship National Museum of Fine Arts and some have surfaced across the Florida Straits in Miami, museum and gallery officials said Friday.
In a statement posted online, Cuba's governmental National Council of Cultural Heritage acknowledged what it called a major loss for the museum, located on a main boulevard in central Havana.
"Last week it was detected that there was an important disappearance of pieces from a warehouse of artwork ... of the National Museum of Fine Arts," the council said.
It added that there was no sign of forced entry, and so far it had not been possible to determine when the theft took place.
"The wrongdoers cut the works and restacked the frames in an orderly way that could not be detected by a simple glance," it said.
Most of the art taken was from the turn of the previous century, in particular pieces by the well-known 19th- and 20th-century Cuban painter Leopoldo Romanach.
Jose Antonio Menendez, director of Cuba's National Registry of Cultural Objects, confirmed the theft and said at least some of the missing works had been found in Florida.
"The investigation is developing and we are concluding an inventory that will be made public," Menendez told The Associated Press.
He said officials were preparing to distribute information about and photographs of the works "so that everyone is informed and nobody is taken in by a stolen piece of art."
Prominent Florida art dealer Ramon Cernuda, who left Cuba as a young child in 1960 and runs a gallery in the Miami suburb of Coral Gables, told the AP the thefts came to light after he bought a painting two weeks ago by Cuban artist Eduardo Abela from another local gallery.