TBILISI, DFWatch–The investigation service of the Finance Ministry has launched an investigation into a Van Dyck painting which according to Turkish media was on sale after being illegally imported from Georgia.

The investigation is being carried out pursuant to article 214 of the Criminal Code about illegal transfer of an item with cultural heritage status.

Investigators questioned Eka Abashidze, who claims that the painting belonged to her family for about 15 years before a failed deal with Zahir Huseinov and Malkhaz Makharadze, who have also been questioned. The two suspects allegedly brought the painting to Turkey, but claimed that they did it in accordance with the rules.

Abashidze says that her family made a deal with the two for USD 37,000 but they were paid only USD 7,000.

However, Huseinov says that he left the painting at his friend’s house in Turkey, and it was stolen from there.

A few days ago, two investors were arrested as they were trying to sell the painting in Turkey for USD 14 million.