By Constantinos Psillides
SERGEI Tyulenev, the 55-year-old Russian suspected of involvement in the theft of a €6 million Edgar Degas picture, was remanded for eight days in custody on Monday by the Limassol District Court.
Police sources told the Cyprus Mail that the 55-year-old remains uncooperative with police investigators.
“He doesn’t answer any question pertaining to the case. He only responds to general questions,” said the source, adding that investigators think that the painting hasn’t left the island.
“Smuggling a painting out of the country is no easy feat. Since we almost apprehended all people apparently involved almost immediately, we think that the painting is still in Cyprus,” explained the police source.
The Russian surrendered himself to the police voluntarily. He walked into Paphos police station on Sunday where he was arrested and transferred to the Limassol Police Station.
Two Cypriot men, 53 and 44, are also in custody regarding the case.
The artwork is believed to be Degas’ pastel on paper, titled Dancer Adjusting Her Shoe, approximately 47cm by 61cm in size and dated late 19th century.
The picture was reported stolen by a 70-year-old art collector last week. The work – along with other valuables worth €157,000 – was stolen from his home in Apaisia village in Limassol.
According to police sources, the two Cypriots are believed to have put Tyulenev, a Cypriot citizen and resident of Limassol, in touch with the 70-year-old, after the latter expressed interest in selling his estate and part of his vast art collection which included over 250 paintings from famous European painters, as well as sculptures, crystal and Victorian furniture.
The known art collector used to have an insurance policy on his valuable art collection. He did not have an alarm system installed.
However, following the Eurogroup’s decision in 2013 to seize deposits in Cyprus’ two biggest banks, the 70-year-old fell on hard times and cancelled his insurance policy, said the source.
He decided to sell his home and part of his collection, but specifically not the famous work from the great French impressionist which he had inherited.
The last person to show interest in the house and paintings was reportedly Tyulenev. The two Cypriot men arranged a meeting between the Russian and the 70-year-old at his home and then again last Monday at a lawyer’s office.
At the time of the burglary in Apaisia, the 70-year-old was with the Russian discussing the sale deal. Tyulenev reportedly told the seller that he wanted time for his lawyers to go over the contract. During this time, burglars gained entrance to the house by breaking through the front door, using a crowbar.