Lone Art Thief Burgles Paris Museum of Modern Art

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Lone Art Thief Burgles Paris Museum of Modern Art


A lone thief broke into a Paris museum last night and stole five paintings possibly worth hundreds of millions of euros, including masterpieces by Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, French police said today.

A police spokesman said works by Picasso, Matisse, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani and Fernand Léger were reported missing early this morning from the Paris Museum of Modern Art. The total value of the paintings was initially put at €500m (£430m) by the Paris prosecutor's office, but Christophe Girard, the deputy culture secretary at Paris City Hall later said it was "just under €100m".

The pictures are: Le Pigeon aux Petits Pois (Pigeon with Peas) an ochre and brown Cubist oil painting by Picasso; La Pastorale (Pastoral), an oil painting of nudes on a hillside by Matisse; L'Olivier Près de l'Estaque (Olive Tree near Estaque) by Braque; La Femme a l'Eventail (Woman with a Fan) by Modigliani; and Nature Morte aux Chandeliers (Still Life with Chandeliers) by Léger.

The burglary was discovered just before 7am. A single masked intruder was caught on a CCTV camera taking the paintings away, according to the prosecutor's office. A window had been broken and the padlock of a grille giving access to the museum was smashed. The paintings appeared to have been carefully removed from their frames, rather than sliced out.

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This made me very very depressed. From the sounds of it the thieves knew how the security works. They managed to do this while three security people were on guard.

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Dutch art heist paintings may have been burned by suspect's mother

Ash from an oven owned by a woman whose son is charged with stealing seven multimillion-pound paintings, including works by Matisse, Picasso and Monet, contained paint, canvas and nails, a Romanian museum official said on Wednesday.

The discovery could be evidence that Olga Dogaru was telling the truth when she claimed to have burned the paintings, which were taken from Rotterdam's Kunsthal gallery last year in a daylight heist.

Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, director of Romania's National History Museum, told the Associated Press that museum forensic specialists had found small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas and paint, and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century.

"We discovered a series of substances which are specific to paintings and pictures," he said, including lead, zinc and azurite.

He refused to say definitively that the ashes were from the stolen paintings. He said justice officials would make that decision.

He did venture, however, that if the remains were those of the paintings, it was "a crime against humanity to destroy universal art".

"I can't believe in 2013 that we come across such acts," he said.