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Routine Check Finds Stolen Matisse Works in Car’s Back Seat

January 9, 1990

NICE, France (AP) _ Eight stolen works by the French artist Henri Matisse were recovered Tuesday when police pulled over a man for a routine check and found the art rolled up on the back seat of his car, police sources said.

Franck Cochet was held for questioning in the theft of the five oil paintings, two drawings and one engraving, which were valued at $12.5 million, the sources said. They were reported missing Dec. 29.

Cochet, 24, was recognized by police officers who knew him from previous theft and drug cases, police sources said.

When they waved over his car for a routine check, Cochet and a woman in the passenger seat tried to flee but were stopped. The woman later was cleared.

The officers were stunned when they unrolled the art works found on the car’s back seat and found the Matisse works, the sources said.

The works, including the well-known paintings ″View Over Collioure Port,″ ″Woman in Brittany″ and ″Devilacqua,″ were taken from the empty apartment in Nice’s posh Cimiez district in the hills overlooking the Mediterranean where Matisse lived until his death in 1954.

The theft was discovered by the artist’s daughter-in-law when she visited the vacant apartment Dec. 30 for the first time since November.

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