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A four-million-euro art theft is finally solved

Paintings are recovered thanks to fingerprint of family member

A fingerprint has helped the Civil Guard close a case on seven pieces of stolen artwork ? including a Dalí and a Sorolla ? that dates back to 2002.

Four Madrileños ? the three children and former wife of the victim ? have been arrested in relation to the robbery. Sources close to the case say the accused reportedly hid the paintings in a house in Valdemoro in an attempt to protect their inheritance after the father began a romantic relationship with a new partner.

The story began in 2002, when a man living in Maello, near Ávila, reported a robbery committed in his home. Information gathered from the crime scene led the police to believe the robbery had been committed by people familiar with the house and its contents: the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for.

Among the swag was a painting by Salvador Dalí, entitled Actuación humana transcendental; a female portrait by Joaquín Sorolla, and another by Condé Delgrás; a still life of flowers by Rosen Roses; a 16th-century portrait of Hernán Cortés; and a charcoal sketch by Gustave Doré, and another in charcoal and hematite pencil by Nicanor Piñole. Their total value is estimated at four million euros.

A perfect fingerprint found at the crime scene later turned out to be useless to investigators, as no match was found. The immediate family was the focus of the investigation, but the Civil Guard was unable to link them to the crime. The case was eventually left to gather dust.

In June, however, a surprise twist appeared when one of the victim's sons was arrested, reportedly for assault. When police entered his fingerprints into their computer system, they found that they matched those of the 2002 robbery.

The man was further implicated when it was revealed that he had supposedly never been in his father's new house.

The police did not alert the suspect at the time, instead placing him under surveillance. Their efforts led them to the family house in Valdemoro, where all of the stolen artworks were eventually recovered in good condition. Police have arrested the victim's 52-year-old former partner, along with his three children, all aged between 26 and 31.