Photographs of the five paintings stolen at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la ville de Paris

1. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Dove with Green Peas, 1911
Oil on canvas - 64 x 53 cm
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne
Stolen the 20 may 2010
Photo : RMN
© Succession Picasso

21/5/10 – Art theft – Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne – Unfortunately, photographs of the five art works stolen the night before at the Musée d’Art Moderne have not been made readily available to the press as this might help in finding them. There is no doubt that this is one of the most important thefts ever perpetrated in a French museum. However, the estimate of 500 million euros quoted in the media is absurd. Not only because the paintings, much too famous, cannot be sold, but also due to the fact that were they not the property of a public institution, their total value would not exceed probably 100 million, a quite respectable figure confirmed by the museum.

Regardless, we are astonished at how easily the thief penetrated into the building it seems and that no one discovered the paintings were missing until dawn. A press release by Bertrand Delanoë states that the volumetric alarm system had been partially defective since 30 March but that “a request for replacement materials addressed to the supplier had not yet arrived”, thus confirming the information in Le Parisien. The Paris mayor adds that he has asked for an investigation into the matter. He states, however, that “the video system worked perfectly well and transmitted images in real time to the security offices where three employees are present every night.” _ But there is no explanation then, if these were the conditions, as to why the thief was not immediately noticed….
Another question is : who would want to steal works which cannot be sold on the market ? We can only hope, given the fact that these canvases are so well-known, that they will be recovered right away. Recently, similar cases have shown that such familiar objects, of no possible market value, end up being too “hot” to handle and thus often return to their legitimate owners [1].

The five paintings are :

— Pablo Picasso, Dove with Green Peas (ill. 1)

2. Henri Matisse (1869-1954)
Pastoral, 1905
Oil on canvas - 46 x 55 cm
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne
Stolen the 20 may 2010
© Succession Henri Matisse

— Henri Matisse, Pastoral (ill. 2)

3. Georges Braque (1882-1953)
Olive Tree near Estaque, 1906
Oil on canvas
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne
Stolen the 20 may 2010

— Georges Braque, Olive Tree near Estaque (ill. 3)

4. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920)
Woman with a Fan, 1919
Oil on canvas - 100 x 69 cm
Paris, Musée d’Art Moderne
Stolen the 20 may 2010
Photo : RMN

— Amedeo Modigliani, Woman with a Fan (ill. 4)

— Fernand Léger, Still Life with Candlestick (ill. 5)

Version française

Didier Rykner, vendredi 21 mai 2010


[1] See the various articles on the subject in The Art Tribune.

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