Stolen Matisse, Picasso & Modigliani Gone Forever
Five paintings, of whitch some by Matisse, Picasso and Modigliani, stolen in May 2010 from the Museum of Modern Art in Paris have been thrown to garbage. The story was told by one of the thieves. The man confessed that he destroyed the paintings estimated at 100 million pounds, after his accomplices reached behind bars.
These five works are “Still life with candle holders” by Fernand Léger, “The Pigeon Pea” by Pablo Picasso,” La Pastorale ” by Henri Matisse, “L’Olivier near Estaque” by Georges Braque and “The Woman with a Fan” by Amedeo Modigliani.
The five paintings were stolen on the night of 19 to 20 May 2010. The architects of the theft were three men. The first, known as spider-man, is presented as the burglar of the paintings. The second, a former Parisian antique dealer, denies that he is the sponsor of the robbery. The third was entrusted with the paintings.
“Spider-man” explained to the police that once inside the museum, no alarm went off, and he continued to conduct the burglary for nearly two hours.
It took police officers more than a year before placing the three men under official investigation. The police managed to catch the culprits just this past September.
Before this, in May 2011, the three men were arrested as part of another case of stolen paintings. The first two were placed under arrest, but the third person entrusted with the paintings was not.
According to Le Journal du Dimanche, one of the alleged accomplices told detectives that when the other two men were arrested, he “panicked and destroyed the canvases before throwing them into a rubbish bin” in spring 2011.
The police are not convinced that he is telling the truth and hope to recover at least some of the stolen artworks.
The French art museums have been criticized repeatedly for not being concerned with the safety for the exhibits. Months before the burglary, a thief walked out of a gallery in Marseilles with Degas’ The Chorus under his coat. Until the theft last year, the biggest unsolved art case was one on the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. The stolen works had been estimated over $500 million.
The FBI estimates the market for stolen art at £3 billion annually and Interpol has about 30,000 pieces of stolen art in its database.