Police in Hue are seeking criminal charges against a former journalist who allegedly stole a pottery piece of world-renowned Vietnamese-French artist Le Ba Dang in March, just one week after his death.
Tran Ngoc Tinh, 54, claimed that he was a friend of the artist's who admired his works and that he took the item for himself. He used to work for local magazine but it was shut down in 2013.
Hue police chief Dang Ngoc Son said that as the stolen artwork was valuable, Tinh must face criminal charges.
He was arrested on March 16, two days after the artwork disappeared from the Le Ba Dang Art Foundation in Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Dinh Thi Hoai Trai, director of the foundation, said it happened when most staff members were away for a requiem ceremony for the artist.
Surveillance footage helped the police find the thief, they said.
The suspected art thief, later identified as Tran Ngoc Tinh, caught on a CCTV.
The item, titled Gom 9 (Pottery 9), is measured 19 centimeters by 28 cm with delicate carvings.
It is one of nine pottery pieces that Dang created during a visit to Thua Thien-Hue in 2009.
He gifted it to the provincial authorities in 2012.
Dang was born in 1921 in Thua Thien-Hue's neighbor province of Quang Tri.
In 1939, he left the country for France to study fine arts in Toulouse.
He gradually rose to fame in the 1960s.
Dang expressed himself through a variety of media, including painting, watercolor, sculpture, jewelry and graphic works.
He was ranked as one of the most famous painters in the world by Cambridge University in 1992.
The artist passed away in Paris on March 7, 2015 at the age of 94 .