Serb Prosecutors Say Modigliani Painting May Fund Hadzic's Life on the Run

Serbian war crimes fugitive Goran Hadzic may be trying to finance his life in hiding through the sale of art, including an Amedeo Modigliani painting worth millions of dollars, prosecutors said.

Police today found about 50 paintings, including a photo of a Modigliani oil painting, as they searched the home of one of Hadzic’s friends for evidence that may lead to the fugitive, who is wanted by the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal, the office of Serbia’s war crimes prosecutor said in an e-mailed statement.

The Modigliani is estimated “to be worth several millions of euros,” according to the statement. “It is suspected that the painting belongs to Hadzic and that it was meant to be sold so as to raise money for his hiding.”

This is the second time this month that police have searched for Hadzic, 52, at large since 2004, as the government steps up efforts to arrest him and Ratko Mladic, accused of committing atrocities during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The failure to arrest the two men has been the main obstacle to Serbia’s effort to join the European Union. Chief UN War Crimes Prosecutor Serge Brammertz, in his year-end report to the Security Council, expressed concern about Serbia’s failure to make the arrests.

The European Commission last month gave Serbia a February 2011 deadline to complete a list of about 2,500 questions on political, economic and social changes needed to join the bloc. The answers will help the 27-nation EU decide whether to grant Serbia candidate status by the end of next year.

Modigliano, an Italian painter and sculptor who died in 1920, is known for his portraits and female nudes. His “Nu Assis sur un Divan (La Belle Romaine),” painted in 1917, sold for $68.96 million last month in New York, a record for the artist.

To contact the reporter on this story: Gordana Filipovic in Belgrade at gfilipovic@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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