July 19, 2013

The Romanian woman who burned a Monet, a Matisse, a Gauguin, and a Picasso.

It's possible that those bits of cinnabar, chromium green, lazurite, and tin-lead yellow found in Olga Dogaru's wood-burning stove are not what's left of the hundreds of millions of dollars worth of paintings for which her son was arrested for stealing from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam. But why lie and say you burned them? And yet, why burn them and not lie?

If you're hardcore enough to burn these things, why are you not hardcore enough to lie to the police?

Who knows what techniques the police in Romania use to extract confessions? It's one thing to crush fine art into the incinerator one night in a desperate frenzy, quite another to hold up to endless questioning. The impulse to have it over explains the burning and the confessing. It's not hardcore to burn and then not to lie. It's the weak combination. To resist destroying the evidence of your son's crimes because the art is beautiful and then also to resist the demands from the police for confession — that is the strong combination. That is hardcore.

The more mundane combinations are: 1. Burn the paintings and lie about it, and 2. Don't burn the paintings and, when confronted by the police, rat on your son. These 2 options are easiest to understand. #1 is the criminal mind, the sociopath. #2 is the virtuous person. These are the familiar and conventional types.
In her statement to the police, Mrs. Dogaru said she panicked when she realized the works would be used as evidence against her son. With officers combing the village, she told the authorities that she had looked frantically for places to hide the works, which were all in a large plastic bag.

She hid them in various places, including her sister’s home and her garden. Then, she said, she buried them at the village cemetery.... Fearful that the works could still be discovered... Mrs. Dogaru said she lighted a fire in the stove and went to the cemetery to get the works. “I put the whole package with the seven paintings, without even opening it, into the stove, and then placed over them some wood and my plastic slippers and waited for them to fully burn,” she said. “The next day I cleaned the stove, took out the ash and placed it in the garden, in a wheelbarrow.”
Congratulations to the police who extracted this confession? No. The police are to blame for arresting Dogaru the son, unleashing he mother Dogaru.