The art world’s eyes were briefly drawn to a forest in Romania.

A forest in Romania briefly drew the attention of the art world earlier this month when it seemed a Picasso that had been stolen in a daring night raid on a Dutch museum seemingly surfaced.

An author who had written a book about the 2012 heist at the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam said she had received a note stating the missing Picasso, Tete D’Arlequin, had been buried under a rock in the Romanian woods.

According to CNN:

“Tete d’Arlequin” was one of seven artworks snatched from the Kunsthal museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, six years ago. Romania’s anti-organized crime agency said in a statement Sunday that it was “investigating the circumstances in which a Picasso-signed painting worth about 800,000 euros ($913,000) was found Saturday evening in Tulcea County.”

However, writer Mira Feticu, who has previously penned a novel about the Kunsthal heist, described the alleged discovery as a “publicity stunt.”
According to the New York Times, the original art theft led to questions about the security of European museums. The newspaper reports that the fake found in the woods was the work of a Belgian performance art group:

The group did not respond to requests for comments by phone or email. But it released a message on its Facebook page on Sunday night confirming its part in the charade. On Monday, it explained that it had buried a fake “Tête d’Arlequin” on Oct. 31 and sent out “six anonymous letters with a location and instructions” on Nov. 1, in hopes that “the work would be found quickly and authenticated as the real ‘Tête d’Arlequin.’”

Why do it?

It was no publicity stunt, the group insisted. “The purpose of our intervention was to show how the ‘Tête d’Arlequin’ could find its way back into the original Triton collection,” the statement said. The aim was “to find out at which point in the process things would falter, with whom and why. The work is one of the story lines of a performance, which as a whole focuses on the value of truth. What is real and what is not?”