John Opit, is relieved that charges have been laid against a Gold Coast man in relation to theft of art works from his house.
John Opit, is relieved that charges have been laid against a Gold Coast man in relation to theft of art works from his house.

Charges laid on art theft



LIMPINWOOD art heist victim John Opit believes an arrest over the notorious theft of his self-proclaimed $50 million Cezanne painting will go some way to making believers out of those who doubted his sensational claims.

Police yesterday confirmed that charges are to be laid against a Gold Coast man who failed to arrive for an arranged surrender at Tweed Heads Police Station on Friday night. An arrest warrant may be issued as early as today.

Mr Opit said he was relieved because the breakthrough would compel sceptics to believe him.

"First they thought the whole thing was a hoax. A lot of people thought it was an insurance thing and then when everyone realised that I didn't have them insured they thought it was a bit weird," said Mr Opit.

The most contentious of the stolen works was the so-called Cezanne which the art restorer claimed was worth $50 million, making the heist easily Australia's biggest art theft.

However art experts have expressed doubts about the authenticity and valuation. At least 24 other paintings were also stolen in the raid on Mr Opit's remote home west of Murwillumbah in February this year. Most were recovered by police inside the garage of a Gold Coast duplex in June. - AAP



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