The 49-year-old oil painter described in detail to the police the way in which he stole the works of art at the National Gallery in 2012, two famous paintings by Picasso and Montrian.
The 49-year-old oil painter who was arrested for the robbery of the century in the National Gallery describes in the apology of the frame how he watched the National Gallery for six months and how he snatched the paintings and escaped by subway.
In his pre-investigation apology, The 49-year-old claimed that for two years he was thinking of stealing a work of art from the Gallery and that his professional training helped him understand "where there was a concrete wall and where there was plasterboard".
"…The 2012 I had entered the National Gallery and taken it 3 paintings. I will tell you everything in as much detail as I can remember. I only ask for your understanding because they have passed approximately 9,5 years I have already suffered a stroke. My purpose is to cooperate fully with the competent authorities, to fully recover the tables. I am very sorry for my act. I have always been interested in works of art να I made constant visits to the National Gallery and became acquainted with the works and the space, until I believed that one of them could become mine. These thoughts tormented me for about two years and led me to make the biggest mistake of my life.
For about 6 months before the theft I made many visits… Due to my involvement with construction I knew the building materials and I could understand where there was a concrete wall and where plasterboard. I sat inside for hours observing not only the works of art but also the configuration of the space and the behavior of the guards, where there were windows, cameras… I also did the same in the surrounding area. I was having coffee and sitting around the gallery for hours . I do not remember how many nights I sat hidden in the plants and watched the guards. <I may have done it over 50 times only in the last 6 months before the theft. So I managed to get a very good knowledge of security systems. I knew all the habits of the guards, when changing shifts, who smoked who went out in the garden… I knew they had been reduced lately due to the financial crisis, I knew there was an alarm.
So, I decided to do the theft. I had not decided which project I would take but only that I wanted to get one.
I went to Monastiraki, I bought black boots, fabric gloves, black pants, a black t-shirt, a black hood that left only the eyes uncovered and a black bag… I used a hammer from my construction tools, an iron chisel and a chisel ".
The choice of the day of the theft was random. , metro and got off at Evangelismos…
"I went into the park and went to a wooden warehouse that was there. I went in and changed my clothes during 9 at night I went out and went to the gallery… I climbed the wall
With my hands I tried to open the leaves of the balcony door. On the second or third attempt I realized that the balcony doors were unsecured and would open if pulled harder.. As soon as the balcony door moved a little, a beep sounded which I realized would call the security guard.. I knew he was just a guard at the time. So, I reassembled the two sheets that were about two inches apart and went to the window. I took out the hammer, I broke the glass creating a hole knowing I had time to do it since I knew how long the guard needed to come. After a while I heard the guard walking inside….
At first I thought that I would not be able to go to the space with the exhibits. I picked up the bag, I jumped on the outer wall and went out on the sidewalk of King Constantine. I walked a few meters down and entered the yard jumping the wall. I sat at some small tables , next to a house and I smoked some cigarettes. I collected the cigarette butts in a bag. Twenty minutes later I returned to the same place. I opened the balcony door, which was indeed unlocked, I heard the beep I went in and closed it again. I stood in the inner corridor and listened to the plasterboard. After a while I heard the guard. He stayed there for a few seconds I heard him mutter something. I thought he was getting annoyed and cursing himself because he could not find what was going on since he could not see the balcony door.
Then I decided that annoying the security guard was the best way to carry out the theft by making him believe that there was a technical problem in the alarm zones.. So I repeated the same process several times. I opened and closed the balcony door without entering. I think the last time I opened and closed the balcony door I did not hear the guard coming. I stayed on the spot until 4 dawn. At that moment I opened the balcony door and went inside leaving it open.
The place was a bit dark but there was enough light to see what I was doing. I rested my hands on the ground α I located the point of the plasterboard joint by applying pressure the plasterboard opened and small boards that were on it fell. I was almost certain that the guard would not come κα I entered crawling in the main area I pulled the bag… The place I entered was a room that had stairs almost opposite. I walked up the stairs and started crawling up the stairs. I crawled into the room and started waving my arms to see if the alarm radars were working..
Since I did not hear any alarm I assumed that the guard had turned it off. I got up and found myself in front of Picasso's painting. I hung it with the heavy frame, I left him at the edge of the stairs and picked up another Montrian painting while hanging another…
Needed 5 with 7 minutes to take out the frames because they did not fit in the bag. I do not remember how I took them out…
I put two paintings in their bag and at that moment I heard the guard coming and shouting thief- thief stops. I did not turn to look at him at all. I got up and without saying anything, taking three or four steps, I pushed myself into the hole that I had opened between the plasterboards.. I went out on the terrace and went to the sidewalk. At that moment it seems to me that I cut from some glasses I took a paper that had a design on it which was an exhibit I wiped my hand and put it in my pocket… I went out to L. B. Constantine running, I heard the alarm of the gallery ringing and the sirens of patrol cars. I entered the warehouse opposite the park… The police searched the park but did not open the warehouse because the door was closed. I left after a long time. I went to the bus stop. He did not have much police σα I asked two girls what was going on and finally I returned home by taxi.
The bloody drawing was a pencil and I threw it in the toilet bowl.
I first hid the paintings on a large toilet in the house. I threw the clothes and tools in the trash the next few days.
The theft was planned and carried out exclusively by me. There was no accomplice.
I did not intend to sell the paintings nor did I ever make any such effort. I was between Greece, the Netherlands and England. "At one point I confessed to a girl I had a relationship with in England that I had the paintings but she did not give a basis to what I said."
Some point, as he states, panicked by statements he saw in the press as he considered that he was being photographed saying that he was an perpetrator beyond suspicion.
He returned to Greece in February 2021 for family reasons , very mentally charged and then wrapped in plastic bags his paintings and one day in May I took them and went alone to Porto Rafti.
went to a stream and in a large and very dense bush hid the paintings . "I left and came back after a couple of days to check. I went to the spot but did not find them. At that moment I was relieved because I assumed that someone found them so he would hand them over. The day I left them a young man had seen me…
Today the police approached me and asked me to follow them κα I offered effortlessly and with relief to help.
We went to the spot I showed them . finally the paintings were 10 meters below the point I was showing them. When I heard the policeman say that they found the parcel I realized that they were found I burst into tears and fell to the ground thanking them. So great was my misery to return them.
I have hard regrets. I declare my complete remorse. I know I will be punished but I ask for forgiveness ".