Sometime in the early hours of Tuesday morning, a daring art heist took place at a Rotterdam Museum in the Netherlands. The thieves got away with seven paintings from famous artists that the museum had borrowed to display during their 20th anniversary, including works by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse.
This must be a huge blow to the art world, with potential hundreds of millions of dollars missing, but the real loss is that the world may not see these paintings again. If they cannot be sold by the thieves, there is a possibility that they will end up destroyed, or they may be sold to a private collector that will never let them be seen by the world again.
The Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam was where the theft happened, and the collection was a private one owned by the Triton Foundation. This is another chapter in the book of poor museum security in Europe, which has led to other thefts. In 2010, five paintings were stolen, including both a Picasso and a Matisse, which were valued at around $130 million. Those paintings are still missing to this day.
Police said that the theft happened at around 3 a.m. local time. They said that the burglars tripped an alarm, and that the police arrived within five minutes. However, if the thieves were able to escape with seven paintings in less than five minutes, or before even tripping any alarms, it does not say much at all about museum security. Charles Hill, a Scotland Yard art detective-cum-private investigator said that the way that the job was executed "suggests professionals."
The museum is set to reopen doors on Wednesday, but the missing paintings will simply be bare spots on the walls. The art that was stolen was first shown in public at this museum last week and includes several famous artists' work like Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London" from 1901 as well as Matisse's 1919 painting titled "Reading Girl in White and Yellow." Picasso's 1971 painting "Harlequin Head" is also among the stolen artwork.
Photo: Jetske on Flickr.com