Major art theft in Holland

October 16 2012


Works by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and Gauguin have been stolen from the Kunsthal Museum in Rotterdam. They were taken early this morning. In the video above you can see one of the gaps on the wall. More details here.

Update: see images of the stolen works here.

Update II - a reader writes:

It's a great loss of paintings and probably will have a knock-on effect on museum security - especially as it's a loan exhibition. Extremely sad for the owners of the Triton Collection.

The thing that intrigues me is - in the absence of Golfinger in his underground kunstbunker - paintings are used as collateral in criminal deals: but if they are largely unsellable, how are they worth anything as collateral? As ransom, I suppose, but that would surely be passing a great danger of getting caught on to whoever uses them.

Sadly, the art ransom racket is now so well established that there is probably little chance of the perpetrators getting caught. Too many galleries have paid out ransoms, and thieves have worked out how the system works. Usually, the art goes to somewhere like the Balkans. There, the artnappers get in touch through well-established channels with those looking to recover the works. Eventually, a ransom is paid. If you're the Tate, you call it a 'fee for information'. Each person in the recovery chain back to the thief gets a lick of the spoon, so to speak, and there is little incentive to help police catch the real masterminds. As a result, art galleries likke the Kunsthal are increasingly paying the price for too much connivance between insurers, thieves, and middle-men.

Update III - another reader has a theory:

Thank you for posting the link to the recently stolen pictures.  I know twentieth century art is less of your area but I can't help noticing that often there seems to be one or two dodgy pictures among the art haul - never to be recovered!  In this instance, the Matisse is interesting .... Sometimes you have to feel for the insurers.

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