Dutch art heist nets works by Monet, Picasso, Matisse

Tue Oct 16, 2012 2:10pm EDT
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By Gilbert Kreijger

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Thieves made off with paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and other prominent modern artists from Rotterdam's Kunsthal museum early on Tuesday in a brazen and meticulously planned operation.

The seven stolen works, which also include a Gauguin, a Lucian Freud and a Meyer de Haan, are thought to be worth tens of millions of dollars.

Dutch police investigating the overnight heist have yet to put a price on the paintings, and few details have emerged about how they were removed from the museum designed by Rem Koolhaas.

But the theft is one of the art world's most dramatic in recent years, and one of the biggest ever in the Netherlands.

Roland Ekkers, a spokesman for Rotterdam police, said they received a call alerting them to the theft at around 3 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

"The alarm system in the Kunsthal was supposed to be state of the art," Ekkers said.

"But somehow the people responsible for this found a way in and a way out and they found time to take seven paintings. So that's something that is part of our investigation right now."

The works stolen were Picasso's "Tête d'Arlequin", Matisse's "La Liseuse en Blanc et Jaune", Monet's "Waterloo Bridge, London" and "Charing Cross Bridge, London", Gauguin's "Femme devant une fenêtre ouverte", De Haan's "Autoportrait" and Freud's "Woman with Eyes Closed".   Continued...

A police officer investigates the surroundings of Rotterdam's Kunsthal art gallery in the Netherlands October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Robin van Lonkhuijsen