A 64-year-old Ukrainian art dealer went on trial in France on Monday, accused of stealing masterpieces worth millions from museums and auction houses in 2017 and 2018.

Vadym Huzhva is, in particular, suspected of stealing the painting "Port de La Rochelle" (Port of La Rochelle) by French Impressionist Paul Signac from the Fine Art Museum in Nancy, eastern France, in May 2018.

Investigators picked up his trail when the painting was recovered in the home of an alleged accomplice by police in Ukraine, who returned it to the Nancy museum.

Huzhva denied the accusation on Monday.

"I don't see how I have anything to do with this. You have no proof of your allegations," he told the court.

Prosecutors said Huzhva was part of a gang of four whom they accuse of stealing several paintings.


Huzhva was alone in the dock because the three others are already in prison in Ukraine on other charges.

"That theft was truly traumatic," Nancy museum director Richard Dagorne said of the "Port de la Rochelle", which was painted in 1915 and is valued at 1.5 million euros ($1.6 million).

Huzhva is also accused of stealing a rare book of Russian gouaches, and works by artists Eugene Boudin, Giorgio De Chirico, Eugene Galien-Laloue and Auguste Renoir from museums or auction houses across France.

His trial is scheduled to end on Tuesday.


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