You have 2 more free articles remaining

Yonathan Birn is one of three people on trial for the 2010 heist from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.

The paintings which include Pablo Picasso's Dove with Green Peas and works by Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Ferdinand Leger – have never been found.

The main suspect Vjeran Tomic, dubbed the 'Spider-Man', took advantage of a broken alarm system and was able to break in without being noticed by the guards.

Tracing Artworks

Birn told the court he had eventually thrown the paintings away. However the investigating judge and other defendants at the trial have cast doubt on Birn’s claims. The investigators believe the five paintings have been taken out of France and Birn’s co-defendants testified he was “too smart” to destroy the masterpieces.

A third defendant, 61-year-old antiques dealer Jean-Michel Corvez, has confessed to being a receiver of stolen goods.

Several hours after the burglary, Tomic said he offered the five paintings to Corvez.

Corvez later showed them to Birn, a 40-year-old watch dealer. Birn said he agreed to buy the Modigliani and to store the others in his studio.

But he said he panicked when police began investigating and, in May 2011, he threw them away.

Tomic is charged with stealing public cultural property, while Corvez and Birn are accused of receiving stolen goods. The three men are also accused of taking part in a criminal conspiracy to commit the thefts.

The trial continues.