A Picasso painting that Iraqi police proudly announced they had found this week appears to be a fake, officials at the Louvre in Paris and the National Museum in Kuwait have told AFP.
Officers had said that the painting was stolen during Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but a source at the museum in the oil-rich emirate said they had never housed such a work.
"The national museum had no Picasso paintings before the Iraqi invasion," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Pictures of the painting, named as "the nakede" (sic) and inscribed "sold by the louvre to the musum" (sic) of Kuwait 1979, and carrying a stamp of the Eiffel Tower, saying "Louvre musem" (sic), indicate it is a forgery.
"Our collection stopped in the middle of the 19th century and we never had a Picasso and we have never sold any of our works," an official from the Louvre told AFP.
"The Eiffel Tower is not featured on our official stamp."
The painting which appears classical in style, and lacking any obvious characteristics of the Spanish cubist and sculptor, who died in 1973, was recovered 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Baghdad earlier this week.
"We formed a security force to chase the suspect, then we arrested the man, who had the painting with him," said an official from Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office during a press conference on Wednesday.
The official said the painting had been stolen during the invasion of Kuwait and that the suspect, who is being held in jail in Babil province, had it in his possession since 1998.
"He was trying to sell it to a group who are interested in international paintings, for more than 450,000 dollars," the officer said.
"It is worth more than 10 million dollars according to the estimations of specialists," he added.