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Stolen paintings worth $2M found in cemetery

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JOHANNESBURG ? An informer's tip led South African police to a private cemetery Tuesday where they found four paintings hundreds of miles away from where they had been stolen from a museum in the capital, authorities said.

The tip is the latest twist in a heist that saw $2 million worth of art stolen Sunday from the Pretoria Art Museum by pistol-wielding thieves posing as eager students with their teacher. One oil painting of a South African township streetscape by artist Gerard Sekoto remains missing.

A canine officer received a tip from an informer Tuesday that led him to a private cemetery in Port Elizabeth, a city about 700 miles from Pretoria, said Brig. Marinda Mills of the South African Police Service. There, under a bench near a memorial wall with plaques naming the dead, officers found four of the missing five pieces of art, she said.

Mills said police had started to verify that the paintings found, all in good condition, were the originals.

No arrests have been made, but officers continue to investigate in the area in hopes that the other stolen painting may be nearby, Mills said. The missing Sekoto painting, an oil pastel on canvas image of township life, is worth about $800,000, authorities say.


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