ANKARA: Turkish police have launched an investigation after the theft of stolen paintings and artifacts worth an estimated $30 million, local media reported Monday. Police are hunting for about 40 paintings stolen from a state museum in Ankara after recovering another 30 major artworks in a raid in Istanbul last week.
Press reports said many of the artworks were believed to have been sold to art collectors, including a number of prominent figures.
Officials at the Culture Ministry and the museum were not immediately available for comment.
Tourism and Culture Minister Omer Celik tweeted Saturday that some of the missing or stolen paintings had been recovered but the government was determined to find the rest.
“We will act with clear determination to recover these works of art which are the nation’s heritage,” he said.
Radikal newspaper said that according to a 2010 inventory at the State Museum of Art and Sculpture in Ankara, over 300 pieces had been stolen, including several dozen that had been replaced by fakes.
Last year, Turkey, which boasts a rich collection of Ottoman and Byzantine treasures, launched action to recover objects it claimed were illegally taken out of the country.